This week’s artist spotlight shines on funk and jam rock band The Mushroom Cloud from New Haven, CT. Coming from their particular music scene, The Mushroom Cloud’s lineup has been held down over the last few years by a number of different well known players from around Connecticut. But at present the band consists of: Paul Harris on guitar and keyboards, Russ Harris on drums, Ryan Berry on bass, and Matt Cuddy on guitar.
Last weekend, The Poke Around caught The Mushroom Cloud during a very special performance at intimate space Sunnyvale in Brooklyn, NY, headlining ahead of some other cool local acts in Coach Z and Nerd Salad. While The Mushroom Cloud’s own set in Brooklyn was brief and offered just a handful of their original material, the band spent the hour choicely and made a strong showing of their instrumental ferocity. In addition to five originals, the band also managed to pull off with aplomb a teaser jam on Crazytown’s 2000 rap rock hit “Butterfly,” because that legendary band had played Sunnyvale’s literally the night before.
Most jam-heavy acts draw a pretty tangible line between composition’s end and improvisation, but The Mushroom Cloud are of the rarer rank that employ a more refined, sophisticated jamming structure. It’s close to that of Soulive or Snarky Puppy, where jams hold substance the whole way through, but fly with the sense of inspired abandon. Surrounding weighty and catchy riffs are solos from Mushroom Cloud members that have a spontaneous feel, heading off compositional sections unexpectedly and excitingly.
Guitarists Paul Harris and Matt Cuddy trade off in this area, both capable of dishing out solos that range between soul and acid rock. Funky and finessed as they are, the drive on intensity from the band is always returning, a relentless push that is sharp as a knife and ready-made to build into sweet, climactic heights. Drummer Russ Harris and bassist Ryan Berry are some of the most fluid rhythm section players you can find around the New Haven scene, but damn if they’re not also most of the time hitting their instruments with some serious muscle.
Where You Can Catch Them Next: Tonight, The Mushroom Cloud play an exciting set at Pacific Standard Tavern, opening for Brooklyn-based jamtronica act Space Bacon. The band also has a special Thanksgiving show scheduled for November 27, with a location to be announced soon. Next month, they’ll play Bridgeport music spot BRYAC, and after that headline a show at renowned Providence performance club Fete Music Hall.
Live Track To Check Out: The band’s original “Gunslinga” impressed us in Brooklyn. For a taste of both that song and The Mushroom Cloud’s instrumental allure in general, check of this cool version the band performed on Bridgeside Live, a variety entertainment Youtube streaming series based out of New York City.
For more audio and information about The Mushroom Cloud, merch and more, head to the band’s website here.