Fins will swim with Coral Reefer Band members at Amp
By ANDY GRAY
Who’s the only person who appeared on the 2017 Grammy Award-winning albums of both young country singer Maren Morris and heavy metal veterans Megadeth?
Here’s a hint: He’ll be at the Warren Community Amphitheatre on Friday.
Eric Darken has worked with Morris and Megadeth and just about everyone in between. He’s performed on the CMA Awards with Taylor Swift and Alison Krauss and recorded with country superstars (Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan), rockers (Bob Seger, Bon Jovi) and indie / pop artists (Ingrid Michaelson, James Bay).
Since 2011, he has been a percussionist with Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, and on Friday he and Coral Reefer bandmates Robert Greenidge, Tina Gullickson and Nadirah Shakoor will join Buffett tribute act Fins to the Left for a River Rock at the Amp concert.
“It’s fun to come in, jump in and go,” Darken said during a telephone interview from his studio in Nashville. “It’s fun to work with a band that loves his material and knows how to play it.”
Darken and steel drum player Greenidge have played with Fins before at the venue, and backing vocalists Gullickson and Shakoor will be making their first appearance with Fins.
“Its a great community, great band, good group of musicians,” Darken said. “The audience will love the band and love getting up close and personal with the Reeferettes. They’re fun, talented and great to be around.”
Greenidge, who has been with the Coral Reefer Band since 1983, previously worked with such artists as John Lennon, Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr. Gullickson has sung with Buffett since 1995, and Shakoor previously was a member of Arrested Development and toured with Paula Abdul, Al Jarreau and Janet Jackson before joining the Coral Reefer Band.
Fins to the Left leader Shawn Lawless said he’s looking forward to having the women perform with the band for the first time.
“I’m just excited to meet them,” he said. “I’ve seen them perform so many times. There’s not one particular song (he’s looking forward to), just the whole adventure.”
Fins — Lawless, lead vocals; Chris Rossvanes, drums; Craig Peppy, drums and percussion; Giulio Savioli, bass; Chuck Hall, lead guitar; Bill Ebie, 12-string guitar; Doug Smith, piano and acoustic guitar; and Jeff Spencer, harmonica — only does a couple of performances a year, and Lawless said they did a couple of performances last week at his new music venue / restaurant Feed & Sing in Salem to prepare for this year’s River Rock appearance.
“The rustiest thing was probably my voice,” he said. “Wednesday was a good chance to shake the rust off and by Friday I was extremely pleased how tight and professional the band sounded. Mine is the easiest job because the rest of the group is out there playing all the time. It really is just like riding a bike. You just have to put a little air in the tires.”
Just because Fins to the Left will be doing many of the same songs Darken plays regularly with Buffett, that doesn’t mean the percussionist can do the exact same thing.
“You can play a song with three different bands and all three will interpret it differently,” Darken said. “It’s not right or wrong, it’s how they play it. It’s great material to work with and I expect lots of energy. I don’t get bored because I’m not sure what to expect next.”
In that sense, playing with Fins is like some of the studio work he does with pop and country acts.
“It more just listening to the track and doing what you feel is necessary,” Darken said. “It’s creating an energy and creating textures and atmospheres.”