Not your garden variety band

Not your garden variety band
Not your garden variety band
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Potatoes are comfort food. The Taters provide comfort too, but of the musical variety, and unlike the veggie, the band is a guilt-free pleasure. Formed by Craig Evans and Brad Tucker as the Burnt Taters well over 20 years ago (in the Floating Folk Festival days) the band has evolved from an alt-country trio to today’s electric, more power-pop quartet. As for the name, Craig says they just threw a bunch of possibilities in a hat and Taters was the last one left. That explanation hints at the group’s collective sense of humor and the fun show they bring to the stage.

 

I caught them Saturday night at O’Toole’s where a full house was treated to wide ranging sets covering a lot of music genres. From the Beatles to Tom Petty to the Eagles and even the obscure but sweet “Love Goes (Where my Rosemary Goes)” by one-hit-wonder Edison Lighthouse, the band had the crowd singing along all night. Lead guitarist Brad Marrs adds just the right touch, knowing when to lay back and when to add flashes of guitar. The band took a turn towards Zydeco during their second set, when Gary Fralin and his accordion joined them for several songs. Even Elvis made an appearance both visually and musically through Craig’s rockabilly vocal styling.

 

Having played the RVA scene as long as they have, the Taters have seen many bands and venues come and go. When they first started in the 80’s, there were a lot of clubs catering to a very party-oriented scene fueled by the legal drinking age of 18. Both Craig and guitarist Greg Marrs said that all changed when the drinking age was moved back to 21, a move Greg agreed had to happen, “It was pretty crazy then, pretty much every night of the week.” But, all-in-all, Craig believes the music scene today to not be all that different from when they started out – including the challenge of being promoted to their public.

 

 

 

With Fralin

Both Craig and Brad have had recent moments in the spotlight independent of the Taters. About two years ago they were attending a Children Incorporated benefit at the Science Museum that was supposed to feature Rosanne Cash. A travel snafu caused Cash to miss the gig, so Craig and Brad scrambled to find guitars and filled in at the last minute. That save was acknowledged by Cash, who sent them a personal note of appreciation and a gift basket.

 

Last December, the duo took part in the tribute concert and fund raiser for local musician Billy Ray Hatley at the National. Craig called it a magical show that brought the cream of local musicianship together for a non-competitive night of good feelings and great music. That also pretty much sums up a typical Tater’s show.

 

Watch Video

 

Craig Evans – Vocals, bass, piano

Brad Tucker – Vocals, guitar, bass

Greg Marrs – Vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo

Chris Mendez – Vocals, drums, percussion

 

 

My bad

I had a ticket to the Emmylou Harris show at Maymont. The hard rains changed my mind. That was dumb. The rain stopped and, by all reports, it was a great show by both Harris and openers The Green Boys. The lesson here is just what any musician – including the Taters – will tell you, “Go see live music.” I’d add (my hardier friends would agree) even if the weather isn’t the best. Often that’s when the magic happens.

 

Emmylou at Maymont

Photo by Nathan Heatley

3 Comments

  1. Thanks to Bill Rice for an insightful piece about The Taters, whose musical talents and skills are amazing. Catch them performing in a venue where the audience wants to focus clearly on the music and you’re truly in for a treat.

  2. Great article. The Taters are very deserving. I have had the pleasure of sitting in with the Taters. It’s always a joy. These guys can make an evening of music a truly dynamic time. Great originals!

  3. The third person who filled in at the Children Incorporated gig with Craig and Brad was ME! Oz Geier, I also sang with The Taters the night you reviewed them.

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