There’s a new instrumental “supergroup” attracting buzz in Zion. The Chickens are a septet consisting of members from local reggae, ska, jazz and country bands such as Insatiable and 2 1/2 White Guys, bands that have gained popularity since the mid-’90s. And like the best things in life, The Chickens strutted themselves into existence without any planning.
“We actually never intended to be a ‘real’ band. We just wanted to get together to write and record a few songs without any prior rehearsal or game plan and see what would happen,” bandleader and saxophonist Dan Nelson says. The Chickens began as a trio with Nelson, Andy Evans (bass) and Shaun Thomas (drums and percussion), then the project expanded to a seven-piece over time. The talented musicians whom Nelson picked to play with The Chickens all add their various influences. It all comes together in a fun mash-up of, mostly, jazz and funk.
“Adding more players thickened up the sound considerably,” Nelson says, adding that somehow he wrangled up the best players in the city. This includes Page McGinnis (lead guitar), Zach Craigle (rhythm guitar), Josh Francis (trumpet) and Derek Howa (keyboards).
“After a few months, word got out and we got a few gig offers, and I decided maybe we should actually try and do something with the group.” That something is more gigging and a debut CD, which they will release Dec. 9 at Bar Deluxe; Ogden roots band Shaky Trade will open.
From the album, “Tusker,” written by Page McGinnis, is a highlight. Nelson says McGinnis got the notion for the tune on a beach in Kenya drinking a Tusker beer. “Tusker” reminds me of the riff in The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now.”
“One song will be a straight funk tune, the next might be acid jazz and the one after that could be afrobeat,” Nelson says. “It just depends on what mood we were in when we wrote it.” For seven members, the playing is tight, the sound is innovative and catchy, and it’s something that Utah needs more of.
The Early Portion focuses on Portia Early’s take on the local music scene via interviews, CD reviews and Portia’s personal reflections on what’s going down around town. Early recently moved from UtahFM to Park City Television to co-host Mountain Views, which airs Monday-Thursday, 6 p.m.