RED BANK, N.J. — Fresh from a successful CD release at The Press Room, the newest nightclub in legendary music locale Asbury Park, N.J., cult-sensation trance-funk rockers Turtle Soup maintain their characteristic intensity by ushering in the late-night finale following Gov’t Mule and moe., handpicked by Asbury’s Stone Pony for the beloved Summer Stage concert series, June 22.
Courting the heels of a Gov’t Mule and moe. double-punch stands as no bijou feat, and requires the piquant intensity, musical chops and degree of professionalism that Turtle Soup has demonstrated in their eight years together. It fits; as keyboardist Ben Feld remarked, “We’ve built a dedicated regional fan base. To have that feeling of a home court — the Shore — is amazing. Yet where we’re at as a band beckons us to drive our presence farther and farther nationally. I want people from Utah writing to ask why we’re not playing Utah.” “It’s a massive honor,” mused lead singer, guitarist and founding member Jeff Mahajan. “I’m a fan of Gov’t Mule, and a huge fan of Warren Haynes, who’s also the guitarist for The Allman Brothers. That’s the great thing about this: Warren Haynes’ legacy is so much bigger than Gov’t Mule, and to be connected to The Allman Brothers on this level, to link with these type of players who have much larger and deeply entrenched fan bases — yet whose fan bases interact and cross-pollinate with ours — is mind-blowing. It screams ‘organic growth.’”
In 1994, Warren Haynes founded Gov’t Mule, his signature Southern rock side project, as a bluesy, gravelly outlet during a lull in recording with his troupe of classic rock stalwarts, The Allman Brothers Band. Gov’t Mule became an amphitheater favorite, since 2005 attracting a new, younger audience through its annual cross-genre festival, Mountain Jam, in Hunter, N.Y., which regularly attracts 15,000 patrons over four days. Jam torch-bearers moe., formed years prior in 1989 and possessive of international renown, have hosted their own festivals across the country since 2000: the midsize moe.down in Turin, N.Y.; the smaller snoe.down at various Northeast ski resorts; and the megalithic Summer Camp, in Chillicothe, Ill., host to 30,000 music fans annually and presenter of an industry pastiche over this past Memorial Day Weekend — Jane’s Addiction, Primus, Common, Pretty Lights, Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Umphrey’s McGee and Gogol Bordello.
The DIY festival connection shared by the bands on the June 22 Summer Stage bill is what appeals to members of Turtle Soup the most. Souper Groove is the first annual multi-day music and camping festival thrown by the band, happening this fall, September 28-29 at 140-acre Camp Zehnder, in Wall, N.J. The band having been nurtured as performers by the jam and festival scenes since its inception, the confidence and where-with-all to host its first event of similar scale is a mammoth leap forward. Alongside two nights of Turtle Soup, the festival boasts Mid-Atlantic favorites such as Lemon Juice, Karmic Juggernaut and Dub Proof.
Behind the scenes at the Summer Stage show, “It will be nice to talk shop and gain wisdom from these figureheads with extreme experience getting their own festivals off the ground,” said Feld. “Then there’s the exposure of being able to play in front of thousands of new people — jam festival fans — who may not have heard of us. To play with successful acts coming through one’s own region is both an honor and a necessity. For example, Keller Williams wouldn’t be Keller Williams without having opened for Dave Matthews Band all those years back. Robert Randolph and the Family Band would still be an amazing yet low-key act you hoped to catch at a small club, if it weren’t for playing with Dave Matthews.”
The Stone Pony (www.stoneponyonline.com) enjoys world-famous status. It opened its doors in February 1974, and, in 2004, began occasionally using its large backlot to accommodate shows from festivals such as Warped Tour and Bamboozle. In 2008, it teamed with Live Nation to maximize the outdoor space, which turned a 1,000-capacity venue into a 3,000-capacity. In 2009, Summer Stage was born. Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Black Crowes and Keller Williams are just a few of the majors to pass through.
This will be Turtle Soup’s second Summer Stage appearance, having opened for moe. on July 4, 2009. The band’s new LP, “Seconds” — the first East Coast album to be recorded at a fully solar-powered studio, Mahajan’s Brooksound Productions — will be available at the show for purchase as a hardcopy or download card. In keeping with innovative marketing tactics, Turtle Soup will offer Soup Bucks with each ticket mail order for the concert, for redemption at their merchandise booth. Discounted tickets at $30, with no fees, are available directly through band management, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the magic.
*SUMMER STAGE • TURTLE SOUP • MOE. • GOV’T MULE*
June 22: Asbury Park, N.J. @ THE STONE PONY, 4 P.M., $30 via email@example.com ONLY