Soundbites: LaMP Talk Their New Live Album | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: LaMP Talk Their New Live Album


Published June 5, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.

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Time is a knife that pares away at each generation's notions of what "should" be in music. But that doesn't make it any less jarring to witness, say, the decline of the long-play album as an art form or the disappearance of its unpredictable cousin, the live album. Long gone are the days of Peter Frampton's Frampton Comes Alive!, B.B. King's Live in Cook County Jail and My Morning Jacket's epic Okonokos, all seminal records in those artists' catalogs.

"The one that always got me was the Allman Brothers' live record, the double one. What was it called again?" Ray Paczkowski asked in a recent video call as we talked about famous live records.

"The one at the Fillmore!" drummer Russ Lawton answered, referencing the Allman Brothers Band's At Fillmore East live album that came out in 1971.

"Right, that's the one," Paczkowski said.

Lawton and Paczkowski are used to finishing each other's sentences. The two musicians have performed together for decades, as members of Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio's band and with their duo Soule Monde, a funk project marrying Lawton's nonstop-groove drumming with Paczkowski's dual Clavinet and Hammond B3 attack.

They debuted a new project in 2020 with guitarist Scott Metzger (Joe Russo's Almost Dead) called LaMP, releasing a self-titled EP that same year. Merging Paczkowski and Lawton's near-telepathic connection with Metzger's melodically tasteful six-string work, LaMP thrive off live interplay and improvisation.

So it makes sense that the band will drop a new double live album this week titled Live at Nectar's, taken from a series of shows the band played at the Burlington jam-band mecca in 2023. To celebrate, the trio plays a two-night stand at the club on Wednesday, June 5, and Thursday, June 6 (sold out), as part of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.

"You know, I was in so-called 'songwriting' bands for years," Lawton said, differentiating between LaMP and his other projects. "We were trying to write stuff that would get us on the radio. But with these guys and this band, that's not really a consideration. What we do is a lot more to do with the improvisational nature of music. It ain't just about the hook."

The best thing about LaMP is staying in the moment, said Paczkowski, who has played with some of Vermont's most beloved bands over the years, such as viperHouse and Vorcza.

"With this band in particular, I really don't think about anything outside of what we've just played," he said. "The three of us have this sort of connection ... We can just get up and let the music play. It's really all about chemistry."

For Metzger, the well-established rapport between Paczkowski and Lawton was initially daunting. But his meticulous guitar playing, which relies on both skill and use of space, blended seamlessly.

"Being the new guy in the dynamic, I was a little worried about finding my space," Metzger said. "But if I start to feel strange about anything, I just have to listen to Russ and Ray, and I can sit back and relax because that bedrock is there."

Even so, the band members sometimes surprise themselves in live settings. When they recorded the first night of what would become Live at Nectar's, all three were sure they had blown it.

"I came off the stage and said, 'Man, I hope tomorrow night is better, because we just wasted a night of recording,'" Metzger recounted. Lawton thought they were even worse. But when the guys listened back to the recordings of both nights, they found they actually preferred most of the music from night one.

That sort of thing isn't uncommon for LaMP, according to Paczkowski, who believes the band's dedication to "in-the-moment music" is its greatest strength.

"What we do isn't like pop music," he said. "But it isn't just jamming. We're arranging all the time. The nature of this band is jam, yes, but then take those jams and do something with them."

To record and release an album at Nectar's is supremely fitting for the trio. Lawson and Paczkowski couldn't even take a guess at how many times they've played the Burlington nightclub over the years.

"Man, there was a time I could pay my rent just from Nectar's gigs!" Lawson reminisced. "That was a long time ago, but yeah, I felt like I was there all week sometimes."

"We just always do well there," Paczkowski said. "It's a room really dedicated to live music, and that kind of energy is hard to beat. Though I don't miss the old stage — it was long and narrow and so, so gross."

"So gross! And you had to bring your own PA!" Lawton added, laughing.

I can absolutely confirm how disgusting that old Nectar's stage was; it actually started to take on a musty animal scent in the last year or two before the room was renovated. Fortunately, the club has a top-level sound system these days, as well as a normal-size stage, so have no fear when LaMP set up shop this week. Though the band has plans to record a studio album this summer, you never know — with a trio this dedicated to bringing the heat in live shows, any performance can turn into an album.

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