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Album Review

Seahorse, Ekoostik Hookah's sixth album, was recorded in Cleveland, OH, in 2002. But if you didn't know better, you might assume that it was recorded in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late '60s or '70s. That's because Ekoostik Hookah, like many jam bands, has a strong Grateful Dead influence. The Columbus, OH, outfit's laid-back blend of rock, country, folk, and bluegrass is the work of a band who has obviously spent a lot of time listening to Jerry Garcia and his colleagues. There is plenty of that "Casey Jones"/"Uncle John's Band"/"Friend of the Devil" influence on this CD. However, it is important to stress that being a disciple and being an outright clone are two different things. Phil Woods, Frank Morgan, and the late Sonny Stitt — three of bop's great alto saxophonists — could be considered Charlie Parker disciples because Bird is their primary influence. But they aren't flat-out clones; as Bird-minded as the altoists are, they're still their own men. And similarly, Ekoostik Hookah knows how to be Grateful Dead-minded without sounding like a cheap imitation — the Buckeye boys bring a jam band energy of their own to easygoing, neo-hippie offerings like "I Been Down That Road," "Silver Train," and "Ridgway Sky." Again, having a love of the Grateful Dead is hardly unusual in the jam band scene, but Seahorse points to the fact that Ekoostik Hookah is better at this type of approach than many other jam bands. Besides, the Ohio residents have other influences, which range from Little Feat to the New Riders of the Purple Sage. The Grateful Dead are their primary influence, but that doesn't mean that they are oblivious to other jam bands (past or present). Fans of the Grateful Dead/Kingfish/New Riders school of Bay Area rock should have no problem getting into this enjoyable, if derivative, CD.


Formed: 1991 in Columbus, OH

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Since 1991, the celebratory jam sounds of Columbus, OH's Ekoostik Hookah has made them one of the finest Midwestern bands to emerge from the neo-hippie scene of the 1990s. Starting off performing at local open mic nights, frontman/keyboardist Dave Katz, guitarist Steve Sweney, bassist Cliff Starbuck, and guitarist/vocalist John Mullins decided that a career in music would be financially trying yet enriching because they had a special passion for it all. The group was instantly noticed at a local...
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Seahorse, Ekoostik Hookah
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