Welcome Back, Merry Pranksters

By Scott Furlong

I had previously heard the Merry Pranksters at Jockamo's in February of 1989. The band has found a home there. It's SRO every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This is a gig well into its fourth year.

I have not heard a more talented or seasoned group playing such a variety of pop, rock, and blues standards at this level of expertise. The band creates a bond between audience and the "characters" they become as the first chord is struck. This is due in part to the continuity created by drummer Dave Young as his humorous remarks reflect on every-day life situation. He seems happy behind those drums as he reels off one-liners.

For those unfamiliar with the lineup, the Pranksters are Dave Young on drugs, er, drum; Ed Sneed, bass; Tom Browning, lead guitar; and R.D. Miller, acoustic guitar and vocals.

Joining the Pranksters this night was guest soloist Mark Watson on soprano saxophone. Late in the first set Mark played a solo on a Cajun-spiced tune. His tone varied in relative roundness as he explored extremes of various registers. He is am awesome technician on sax and an accomplished player by anyone's standards.

Tom Browning then took a solo. He has such a command of the guitar as well as effects devices which enable him to vary his tone from song to song, and, in this case, from note to note.

These musicians listen to one another. This communication to me is noteworthy. I feel much of the hard rock noise of today is the product of a lack of communication or just an inability of young people to listen to someone other them themselves. How subtle the change from major to minor. The Pranksters explore that subtle difference in their music and humor.

ln these days of image marketing and Grammys returned by "unsung" pop stars, it's nice to sec some talented musicians in a situation all young bands would like to be in. The Pranksters have been on a roll the last three-and-a~half years. We wish them many happy returns.

Check out the Pranksters' show sometime, and check out Ed Sneed on bass guitar. He's the real thing, plays a Rickenbacker bass and runs sound all at the same time.

Friday's lineup changes slightly with Little Jimmy Wilson on lead guitar and Bob Ramsey On keyboards.