August West @ Thai Rock
Inspired by the character portrayed in Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia’s “Wharf Rat,” August West is more than just a five member cover band from Brooklyn.
Each of the five musicians—Jack Devine, Rip Westmoreland, Joel Harrison, Mark Avnet and Scott Hamilton—come from different musical backgrounds, having performed with different bands in the past, before coming together to start a band of their own.
“We started as an acoustic Bluegrass jam band… before we decided to go electric,” Drummer Scott Hamilton said. “At first we weren’t focused on building a repertoire.”
Connected through their love for the All- American band from Palo Alto, Calif., the band soon found themselves using the Dead’s original compositions as a startoff point for their own unique sound.
“It’s a great body of work,” Hamilton said. “A lot of the music delves deep into Americana.”
Unlike some of the other Grateful Dead cover bands, August West does not set out to recreate any of the Dead’s historic or past performances.
Jack Devine, the group’s lead singer/guitarist, said the issue with most cover bands is that they all tend to fixate on the exploratory/jam side of things, without focusing on the harmony.
“We have three accomplished singers in the band,” Devine said. “So, we tend to focus quite a bit on the vocal side of things.”
Not unlike most other jam bands, August West prefers performing long-form and free flowing music, which allows them to improvise on stage.
“[For us] it’s about being liquid and changing in the moment,” Devine said. “Sometimes we just want to call an audible.”
But even though they’re all “deadheads,” their individual song preferences still vary greatly.
“Each of us loves some songs more than others,” Hamilton adds. “I love ‘Brown-Eyed Women’ but for somebody else, it could be ‘Uncle John’s Band.’”
Despite their individual tastes, the band is able to capture the energy and cooperation of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.
Don’t miss August West, on May 7, at 9 p.m., as they take the stage for a three-hour performance at Thai Rock, 375 Beach 92nd St.