RUN SIDE DOWN – Live EPs
Run Side Down was known as Space Camp until NASA lowered the hammer on them, forcing a name change. That event probably did more for the band than any promotion could have. They don’t need any sensationalism, however as Run Side Down is arguably the best jam band in the Madison area.
The band is led by guitarist/vocalist Mike Scieszinski, who is a talented player in the mold of Trey Anastasio and with just as many chops. Vince Faris’s keyboards also play an important role in the band’s sound, giving them that one-two punch. Run Side Down also benefits from a sterling rhythm section in drummer Jon Reed and bassist Dan Plourde.
They have released a few live recordings and are heading into Smart Studios in January to begin tracking their first studio CD, set for a spring 2007 release. One of these live EPs was recorded at the now-defunct Portal Music Café in June of 2005. For a live-to-DAT recording essentially mixed to stereo on the fly, the sound quality is surprisingly good. Another show they’ve released was recorded at the Stone’s Throw in Eau Claire. That one, recorded in March of 2006, shows a clear progression in their improvisation skills although the sound quality is not as good. A third live disc is available on the band’s website and was recorded in September of this year. Culled from several shows across the Midwest, logic would dictate that this one is even better.
Run Side Down does recall Phish, especially in a lyrical manner but also in the song construction. On “Patches” they sing, “I got patches on my jacket / To cover holes in my soul / I got a new job, better than the old job / Of selling lies to closed eyes.” In Phish fashion, these are the only words in the nearly six-minute track, the band jamming madly on the central riff while Scieszinski tosses in some very tasty guitar licks. “Shoes,” from the Space Camp CD of 2004, America Must Dine, exists in the same vein, with sntiments no deeper than, “I’ve got soles on my walking shoes / Shoes got souls of their own.” The band segues into “Fake Diamonds” on the Stone’s Throw disc, one of their performance staples, then return to “Shoes.” They fittingly use the “>” symbol in Dead/Phish fashion. “Word” is a nifty instrumental track that again allows Scieszinski to blaze. “Endless Sky,” also from America Must Dine, reveals the band’s ability to play the easy-going ballad, stretching it to nearly twelve minutes by throwing Spencer Davis’s “I’m a Man” into the middle jam section.
You needn’t be a Phish-head fan to appreciate Run Side Down, just a fan of music and especially good guitar playing and solid improvisation. They make for a great night out, tossing in the unexpected cover tune as the mood suits. Run Side Down inspires good times, a reason that club-owners and fans alike love to have them around.