I hear I missed a magic moment at the Myakka Blues Festival. Kettle of Fish were up on the stage and Dana Lawrence’s 5 year old daughter Cassidy strolled on up, reached for her father’s hand, kissed it and touched his hand to her face. It brought the house down! If you ever think rockers are any different than anyone else, you’re wrong. They bleed, cry and play just like the rest of us.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dana Lawrence this week at Starbuck’s. I moved to Sarasota 18 months and can’t believe I’ve never had the opportunity to see Kettle of Fish play. Dana gave me a CD and I played it right away….the groove is the blues combined with high energy Southern Rock n’ Roll. A good portion of the band’s material is written by the band, as Dana explained it to me, that one band member will write a lyric, usually Dana, then he’ll take it to lead guitarist Thorson Moore, and he’ll kick it to the next level, then usually drummer Garrett Dawson will contribute a hook, and before you know if you have a new Kettle of Fish tune. In other words, they are a collaborative band. I had a million questions, probably feminine in motivation, like “Are you guys like a family, like do you trust one another and seek each other out in times of trouble, joy, happiness?” I was glad when he replied, “we are definitely a family, and the family gets bigger and bigger as life goes on.”
Kettle of Fish began its first incarnation in 2001. For almost ten years now they have appeared at Wednesday nights at SKOB, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, a restaurant/bar in Siesta Key. While the band was coming together over the years, I asked Dana when he finally surrendered to making music his full-time gig, he answered that he had been a detail man for a nutria-ceuricals company, which is about manufacturing and selling non-prescription vitamins and medications. It came about that he couldn’t do both, so dropped his 9-5 for a 24/7 6 years ago, and is happy he did.
Dana is from Boston, MA. and attended U of Mass. where he wrote for the school paper, the U Mass Daily Collegian, and worked as the Assistant Arts Editor. I asked about his childhood, and was his family musical? Not particularly, he says. He remembers being introduced to Kiss, Kenny Rogers and musicals and trying the guitar in 4th grade but not being motivated, at that time, to really put himself into learning how to play. I asked whose music he appreciates at this point and he is a big Tom Petty fan and is into Otis Redding, Lyle Lovett and still digs Derek and the Dominos.
As the band has come together there have been full time and fill-in players, and the cast of characters, or the main members of KOF: Dana Lawrence – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar. Thorson Moore- Vocals, Lead Guitar. Todd Cook – Bass and Vocals. Garrett Dawson on drums, percussion. Matthew Frost often on keyboards, and many others rotating in and out of the co-op that is the Kettle. In addition there’s Gavin Michael, guest drummer, Jimmie Fadden, guest drummer from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Greg Poulos, guitarist extraordinaire from the Venturas. They recorded their debut EP at Matt Frost Studio in Venice, Fl, and Spirit Ranch, Sarasota.
At this stage of the game, when you’ve been playing together for 7-10 years and you’re well-known and loved, you get to “pick” where you want to play. You get to “fire” the bars you don’t like, and life still goes on. Aces is a personal favorite of Dana’s because it’s a great atmosphere, the sound is great and they have a good following, including the local bikers.
The band does a charity event about once a month, and Dana Lawrence coordinated two benefits last year. After Hurricane Sandy the band played to raise funds for the Jersey Shore upheaval. Sarasota Blues and Brews is a new favorite, raising money for the Allman Brother’s former engineer and producer, Bud Snyder. It takes a very special bunch to donate to charity on a monthly basis. Better get your tickets for their 19th of July event at the Van Wezel, on the outdoor stage with a great view of the water. This is part of Friday Fest in Sarasota. August 2nd Kettle of Fish will play at Music on Main.
So you have their schedule and there’s no excuse not to get to one of the events, above, and rock to the beat of Kettle of Fish. Want to know more about their gig schedule? Log on to www.kettleoffish.net. This is not your ordinary band…this is a group of amazingly talented local guys who get to invite people like Greg Poulos, RJ Howson, Nate Howell, Joey Lavallee and Berry Oakley to play with them. Their original music is in its own caliber. It is the result of experience, loving music more than anything, and not being afraid to do it full time. Thanks Dana, for your time. See you on July 19th. Oh, and I have to give credit to Mark Kracker for giving me the title- Nothin’ but Good Vibes – the philosophy of Kettle of Fish.
Photo of Cassidy and Dana by Mark Kracker