The Kyle Hollingsworth Band have been making a brief tour of the northeast this week, with earlier this week seeing them play at NYC’s Brooklyn Bowl for a Relix-hosted event. Last night, the quartet took to the intimate room of Fairfield, CT’s Stage One, for what turned out to be a very fun, high energy set of music that saw Deep Banana Blackout’s James “Fuzz” Sangiovanni join for a bit of the party.
“This is a cool room. Cool town, too,” Hollingsworth said while walking over to his beautiful keyboard rig. The crowd was showing a rowdy excitement even as the band was strapping up to play, and the String Cheese pianist addressed their anticipation: “Hey, we’re not gonna ease into this thing at all, we’re just gonna go!”
And that was the case. The band hit off on a breezy, funky instrumental tune, and they must have been warming up awhile back stage, because this was an impressive and rousing start. The band was tight yet already powerful, with their solos pushing the song to mini climaxes. Following some of Hollingsworth’s first bit of soloing, his guitarist, bassist and drummer were moving around a bit on the tune in fluid feel.
Although the show was advertised to have two sets, the band ended up powering straight through one big set, which definitely made sense. By way of the next segment, the energy in the room was worked up way too hight to take a break. Starting with “Way That it Goes,” Hollingsworth initiated a very cool jam on “Slipknot,” which the band picked up on effortlessly. The crowd was beside themselves in their dancing, but the best was imminent—even cooler was the next segue into “Boo Boo’s Pik-A-Nik,” which used the dead as a platform for a great breakdown bit.
“Pik-A-Nik” never stopped, but instead marched straight into the beginning riff of Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime,” bringing up Deep Banana Blackout’s guitarist Fuzz to join on it—whom Hollingsworth introduced as a good friend of his. Given Fuzz’s chops and his natural flair, he had no problem linking with both Hollingsworth and the rest of the band right away. They carried “Pik-A-Nik” first through a brief jam on Van Halen’s “Jump” and then through a great build into “Let’s Go Outside,” for a strong wrap up to this terrific segment.
Fuzz left the stage, and the band followed up with next with a great disco-rock pairing, “Take the Ride” and SCI’s “Pack it Up.” The first song was the live debut of a brand new song featured on the keyboardist’s new album, 50. Here, Hollingsworth and his jazz trio were showing a definite Herbie Hancock influence, in sound but also in the way jam built out of very fusion-style solos. On the end of his solo, Hollingsworth tacked on more “Slipknot” teases.
The band wrapped up this fantastic set with two more Cheese-regular tunes, “Falling Through The Cracks,” and “Can’t Wait Another Day,” in the middle of which the band found there way into a teaser jam on “Crosseyed and Painless.” At the end of the show, Kyle Hollingsworth’s bassist took to the mic to mention Hollingsworth’s upcoming birthday, and had the room sing happy birthday to the keyboardist as he walked back out.
Glass of Patron in hand, he responded: “I’m not f—ing fifty yet—I’ve got like three more weeks!”
For their two-song encore, the band brought Fuzz back out, first for Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” where Fuzz handled the vocals and rocked a huge solo. The band finished with “Rosie,” on which Hollingsworth had a lot of fun with his peddles, bringing a weird, dark ending to this version.
Kyle Hollingsworth continues this weekend with a two-night run at Syracuse’s Funk ‘N Waffles.
Article and photographs by Miles Hurley