Tales From the Road: Formula 5 Guitarist Joe Davis
Joe Davis, guitarist of Formula 5 recaps recent performances at Rock n Roll Resort, Disc Jam Music Festival and Buffalove Music Festival, providing fans with the musicians point of view.
Late May to early June is always an interesting time of the year for us in Formula 5. Certain seasonal stops in Lake George and other tourist locations start opening up and festival season begins as summer rapidly approaches. Festivals are always an exciting time to be in a band — as one would expect playing festivals have many advantages for a band. For example — wide scale exposure to similar fan bases, seeing old and new musician friends, getting to watch some of your favorite acts take the stage from a backstage perspective… the list goes on and on.
Our festival schedule began in May at Rock N Roll Resort in Kerhonksen, NY. The lineup was stacked with some of our favorite acts and best friends in the music community: Twiddle, Consider the Source, Beau Sasser, Lucid, just to name a few. This festival was special for me due to the fact that a great old friend, John Morrison and his band The Other Brothers, joined us on a festival bill and got to hang out as artists at a festival for the first time. John was one of the first people I ever actually learned and played music with, and to watch his band flourish into what they’ve become is truly great and I’m happy for him and those guys, because they’re just great dudes.
I had some fun at Rock N Roll Resort but we got down to business when it mattered. Our set went well and Ryan Dempsey from Twiddle sat in on a Warren Zevon cover: “Night Time In The Switching Yard.” Ryan is such a good player and has such a passion for music, it was great getting to jam with him and feed off his ever-present energy. My favorite section of the set was probably the opening “Hot Box -> Mister Elixir -> Hot Box” sequence which opened our set. “Hot Box” and “Mister Elixir” are two of our oldest songs written by keyboardist Mike McDonald and we still love mixing these two in our sets and stretching where the two songs can go, intertwining within the two structures of the song without using jamming as a crutch to facilitate the segue. Those two songs really aren’t ‘jam vehicles’ for us on a normal occasion but happen to pop out a few lengthy jam segments every once in a while. Overall, Rock n Roll Resort was fantastic, we hung out with great friends, watched Twiddle and partied with some great people.
Setlist: Hot Box -> Mister Elixir -> Hot Box, Floating, Night Time In The Switching Yard*, The Clear -> Fluffhead Outro
*Ryan Dempsey on Keys
Next up on our festival schedule was Disc Jam Festival in early June and what a weekend that was. The lineup for Disc Jam was incredible this year: Twiddle, Dopapod, Lettuce, Electron, Consider The Source, Kung Fu, The Heavy Pets, Mister F, Strange Machines and even more. Unfortunately, due to a massive thunderstorm, Lettuce had to call it quits about twenty minutes into their set on Friday but the acts to follow would more than make up for it. Dopapod completely blew me away as I’d expect them to; Rob Compa is such a great guitar player and I’m glad I got to watch him play, it’s almost like a free lesson. We played a short acoustic set on Saturday afternoon at the Relix tent and played a fun song with two of our best friends in the scene — Christian Perron and Mike MacDonald from Strange Machines.
Our set on Sunday went really well. I think we recently really reached a new plateau of jamming and I think a large part of it has to do with me taking a step back and allowing Mike, James and Greg develop a launch pad for me to create with. Listening more to the chord progression that’s being built by those guys and slowly and melodically creating a more interesting and cohesive jam. The highlight of the set had to be the “Nu-GEN” jam which transitioned from the normal ‘Phrygian Dominant, Middle Eastern’, if you will, vibe into pure major key bliss. Another highlight was Scotty crushing a Talking Heads tune with us that truly got funky. I wrapped up the weekend hanging out with a lot of great friends, again, and getting the great opportunity to sit in with Twiddle during a full band rotation jam that featured Todd Stoops, Michaelangelo Carubba, Honeycomb, Scott Hannay and Formula 5’s own James Woods. That was truly a special moment and the Twiddle family is so welcoming and awesome and I’m glad I got the opportunity to play with those guys.
Setlist: The Music Never Stopped, Nu-GEN -> Pedro > Excalibur, Uh Oh Love Comes To Town*, The Clear -> Nu-GEN
*Scott Hannay on Keys
The recurring theme with these festivals is the family and friendship aspects and how amazing it is to be doing this with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. Buffalove Festival was no different. The first band to ever bring us out to Buffalo was Funktional Flow. We met Funktional Flow through a gig trade very early on in my tenure with Formula 5. They were probably our first great friends in the music community. We hit it off with those guys immediately and despite the core three (Ben Whelan, Jeff Kuebler, Jim Edgar) taking on a slew of new members I think they finally found the two pieces they were missing — Joey Lewis on guitar and Matt Lester on keys. Hearing and watching them evolve over the years and striding on through each change has been awesome. They sound better than ever and I’m pumped for those dudes.
Our day set at Buffalove started off with a number of technical difficulties. James’s bass rig was having power issues, monitor levels were rising and falling at random intervals and intensity, and I snapped a string three songs into our hour long set. But we had some good moments too. The highlight for me had to be “Ride -> St. Stephen -> Ride.” “St. Stephen” is a new cover and we love playing it, such a classic simple song by the Dead and one of my favorites of their older tunes. Our late night segue set with Funktional Flow went much more swimmingly — we absolutely crushed in my opinion and I usually don’t always walk away feeling that way. Something about the late night vibe just really puts us in a good mind set for playing. Last year at Buffalove we did a surprise segue set with Funktional Flow in the late night tent and it kind of snowballed into a must for the festival. The jam in “Earthbound Tim”, which is practically never a jam vehicle for us was great. Buffalove unfortunately wrapped up our early summer festival circuit pretty quick but we have some more lined up in late summer and early fall.
Day Set: Ride -> St. Stephen -> Ride, Movin’ On -> Excalibur
Late Night Set: Perch Above the Earth, Earthbound Tim -> Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley, Know Your Enemy
After two straight weekends of festivals we are bringing it back home to Lake George tonight at Shepard’s Cove, one of our classic summer time stops. We’ve been putting time in to work on Phish tunes for our Phish set at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy on July 11th and maybe we’ll be busting out some surprises at Shep’s. Until then, cheers.