Kettle of Fish came to Sarasota in 2004 and they haven’t looked back! Getting their start at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB), they have been entertaining audiences in the Sarasota/Manatee area and beyond! Their eclectic setlists range from classic tunes by The Band and Tom Petty to their own original music, & deep tracks from rock to blues.
Sarasota’s own jam band started by vocalist and guitarist Dana Lawrence, they have been voted Best Band in Sarasota several times. They are celebrating at SKOB on Wednesday, January 30th! The Sarasota Post talked to Dana about the band and making it 15 years in the SRQ!
SP: How did you come to Sarasota from Boston?
DL: My mom lived in Venice. I was in the bar business and had risen to the top of what I could do there and could have gone to Vegas, but I didn’t really want to. I was getting burned out so I came to Florida to work in the family business. I gave 5 years to the biz and then decided I didn’t want to go back in the bar business and, by that time, I was playing solo gigs at SKOB and Main Street Bistro and it grew from there.
SP: Did you take music lessons? Do you play by ear or read music?
DL: I took lessons for about 2 weeks and hated it. I play by ear. No, I don’t read music. I always loved music and my mother said I spent a lot of money on it! Pearl Jam inspired me. When I lived in Key West, I would go to the Southernmost Pier with a six-pack of beer and play my chords and sing very horribly.
SP: How many musicians have you had play in Kettle over the years? Have you ever thought about that?
DL: No, I have no idea! There has only been a handful of keyboard players, probably 20 drummers, 15-20 guitar players, definitely over 50 players and maybe 100, but I don’t know. The current lineup is Greg Poulos on lead guitar, Rick Andre on drums, Rob McDowell on bass and Robin Swenson on keys.
SP: You have had some well-known players sit in with you over the years, tell us about some of them.
DL: Jimmie Fadden from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Duane Betts, Mark Knight from L.A., Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night, and Jeff Hanna from the Dirt Band came from Nashville and both he and Jimmie Fadden jammed with us. Jeff’s famous songwriter wife, Matraca Berg, who is inducted in the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, sat in with us. That was a lot of fun, we literally had half of the Dirt Band at SKOB!
SP: When you switch players, do you have rehearsals or do they pick up and know what they are doing?
DL: No rehearsals, we might talk about songs beforehand and I will know before they come in what their strengths are, at least I have learned that and I will give you a funny example of how I learned that. We were playing the Green Parrot and Willie G’s in Key West and Jimmie Fadden made the trip down there. I still had beach club mentality and here was the great Jimmie Fadden on harmonica and we were playing the Violent Femmes and it was just odd. He didn’t know the song, it was not in his wheelhouse, and I learned I am not going to have Jimmie doing random indie pop songs; I am going to stick to what he knows. Same with anyone, last night we had a rock drummer and we weren’t going to play any jazzy stuff. We will stick to the strengths of whoever’s joining us.
SP: What is happening for the anniversary show on Wednesday?
DL: Jimmie Fadden is coming by since he is off the road, and will be sitting in with us. Thorson Moore is coming by and other players will be swinging through. We will be celebrating and paying tribute to the original Kettle of Fish trio that included Mason Dunn and Sanderson Poe, who have both left us way to soon.
SP: What has been your experience of playing for Sarasota audiences?
DL: First of all about the audience, what a knowledgeable group! I love the fact that they have so much knowledge because it allows you to go off the beaten path and do different things. In Sarasota, Bradenton, Tampa and St. Pete, people will come up to you, not because you did the Rolling Stones but because you did “Ophelia” by The Band, they are more impressed by that and it pushes us to keep doing that stuff. Not to mention that there are so many musicians and so many places to play, I don’t want to sound like a retread of anything else.
SP: Kettle will be playing the [Synchronicity] Southern Rock and BBQ Festival on February 23rd at the Masonic Park and Youth Camp in Wimauma. Festival Info Site
DL: Yes and we are really excited about it. The location is amazing and the vision for it. I am really impressed with what Greg [Gerdes] is putting on and it is really exciting. It is family friendly and I like the idea of the location, between Sarasota and Tampa, and they have camping too. We are looking forward to it.
SP: Appreciate your time Dana! Have a great anniversary show!
DL: Thank you so much!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan and Gail Gerdes
Tickets are still available for the festival! Eventbrite