HOLLER! — Shaky Stage performs at the Pollywogg Hollër Eco–lodge bed and breakfast in Belmont, N.Y. Photo submitted by Jassen Otto.
BOSTON — The local band Shaky Stage, which originated with a punk background, has transformed and now has more Americana and bluegrass influences, according to its members. Shaky Stage has been performing for 15 years and, from 7 p.m. – 9 on Tuesday, Aug. 6, will be playing at the Boston Town Park, during the Boston summer concert series.
Members Jeff Bunk and Jassen Otto played together in a punk band, 20 years ago.
Shaky Stage is comprised of a group of eight; Bunk on guitar and lead vocals; Otto on bass, guitar and back-up vocals; Paul O’Keefe matching Otto, in addition to playing the keys; Andrew Daniels on drums; Michael Faltyn on keys, guitar, banjo and supporting vocals; Scott Kirby on mandolin and Dave Kimball on lead guitar. The final component of the band, Dave Crouse, is a previous member who no longer performs, but is the band’s “guru and spiritual advisor,” according to the current members.
“He’s full of colloquial wisdom,” Otto said. Although Crouse is no longer a performer in Shaky Stage, Otto said the former member still remains active and involved.
The band works as “a collective of guys” according to Otto. “What matters is the music,” he said. “It takes a band.” Members make decisions by consensus; there is no front man. They said that they are not driven by business, financial gain or popularity.
“Our main mission is to, sort of, spread joy to the world,” said Otto. He and the other members said that they channel their energies into their performances and into connecting with the audience. According to Otto, the size of the crowd does not matter, as long as the people are engaged.
The members said that it is common for musicians to transform their sound over time, but how does a band go from punk to bluegrass?
“Maybe some of it comes with age; slowing down,” Otto said, adding that transitive changes, for musicians, are common and necessary for either the growth or death of the group. O’Keefe and Faltyn previously performed in separate bluegrass bands, which brought folk inspired influences to Shaky Stage’s sound.
Otto said that the band has developed a unique character and story. He added that, throughout the years, the band has focused on having fun.
Shaky Stage performs about two or three times a week, during the summertime. Its crowd has ranged from a handful of people on Allen Street in Buffalo to 300 or more attendees at Pollywogg Hollër Eco-lodge B&B in Belmont, N.Y.
Each member sports his own personal music taste, but they all reported a mutual love for certain artists. Their influences description under their Facebook “About Me” section says it all:
“Shaky Stage started out, at the core, as a punk band. Along the way, we learned some country songs. From there, we stumbled upon folkish harmony. Some of us like Iron Maiden. Some like Bruce Cockburn. We all like Tom Waits. One of us would like to cover ‘Holler Back Girl.’ Mostly, we like The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, The Tragically Hip, Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Pogues, The Eagles, Neil Young, etc.”
In addition to cover songs, the band also has a handful of originals. It has been sitting on a seven-track EP for about eight months, due to their individual schedules.
The band members said that they like to think that they get paid in feedback and positive vibes. “It’s about the soul of the musician,” Otto said.
The upcoming Aug. 6 concert will be held at the Lion Shelter at the Boston Town Park. In the event of rain, it will be held in the town of Boston Community Room. Admission is free, for attendees of all ages.