New Monsoon: Mercury Lounge, NY NY 5.3.08

Kicking off their show with “Song for Marie,” the amiable members of New Monsoon nodded to one of their obvious influences, the Allman Brothers. Similar in structure and mood to the venerable “Jessica,” the opener set the tone for an enjoyable evening of energetic down-home rock.

Throughout the show, lead guitarist Jeff Miller proudly wore his Jerry Garcia influence on his sleeve, offering nimble, sunny licks and the matching goofy grin that Jerry sported in his better days. Miller also demonstrated one of the best qualities of this band: Despite ample jamming, they never get too far from their solid songcraft. On tunes like “Other Side” and “Water Vein,” featuring vocals from keyboardist Phil Ferlino, the bright, mostly major-key improvisation explored interesting territory without falling off the rails.

Though he was a bit too quiet in the mix, acoustic guitarist and banjo player Bo Carper got to cut loose on “Romp,” a rollicking jamgrass tune that featured a short banjo solo overlaid on a reggae beat. A nice take on the Talking Heads’s “Slippery People” toward the end of the set signaled the close to a wholly enjoyable set of relentlessly positive yet inventive Bay-area rock.

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