The New Electric Review

                  Covering the sites, sounds and experiences of the 21st century




Form of Media: Live Music

Location: the Rainbow. Seattle, WA

Date: Aug. 16, ‘02

Artist: Ten Ton Chicken



Seattle wears the crown of hosting the largest annual pro-hemp festival and 2002 was no different. Attracting 150,000 hemp advocates over a 2 day event seems easy to the coordinators of the Seattle Hemp Festival, and scheduling top notch entertainment doesn’t hurt. Bands covering a spectrum of music genres from folk, jam, reggae to hip hop and metal were well represented. In particular I was most interested in experiencing the music of Ten Ton Chicken, again. A high powered jazz/funk/jamband from Berkeley, CA, Ten Ton Chicken figured to be a perfect fit to headline Saturday’s main stage at the prestigious hemp flavored event. A festival sponsored venue performance by Ten Ton Chicken was also on the calendar Friday evening at The Rainbow in Seattle’s UW district.


Having seen Ten Ton Chicken in Seattle once before I was prepared for some kine grooves, sweet segues and serious jams. Making their first return to the Rainbow since a sold out performance in February, TTC settled in right away and took us on a musical journey that lasted through the echoes of the final note of the evening. The set list, which I later learned, was filled mostly with brand new originals.


Twenty Times à Moma Dance

Mama’s Cork





Local Yoakel

Bisquits & Chicken

Gobblinà Daddy’s Lower Half

Mama’s Upper Third


The “Twenty Times, Moma Dance jam was wicked in its diversity and worked well into the set heating up the crowd. Thus began a wonderful night of incredibly diverse, good-feeling, dance-inducing grooves. Ten Ton Chicken all have very different personalities, looks, and musical styles, yet are capable of meshing so well as a unit. Throughout the night hints of influences could be heard, including the Zappa-esque “Mama’s Cork”, the jazzy overtones of “Horscht” & “Mama’s Upper Third” and Phish-like “‘sklorilla”. However, the Ten Ton Chicken manages quite well creating it’s own distinct sound by mixing a form of jamband, jazz and rock that congers up great feelings and impulses to move about the floor.


The improvisational aspect of their presentation was smooth. Guitarist Gary Morrell handles most of the vocals, while absolutely laying it down on his six-string with a flavor the likes of Leo Nocentelli to Jerry Garcia. His voice is extremely distinct and with a confident, fluid delivery, it really adds a cool dynamic to the band. Other select vocal tunes were sung by rock-solid bassist, Tom Fejes (such as the upbeat yet bluesy Handle) and Saxophonist Jamison Smeltz who is a terror on tenor sax. Greg Sankovich went at it with precision on the keyboards while Rich Dibenedetto’s commitment to the rhythm pocket on drums resonated throughout the night.


The Chicken Segued in and out of their set flawlessly and ended with an instrumental montage of Gobblin’, Daddy’s Lower Half and Mama’s Upper Third that beckoned for more. I’m impressed with their ability to write material that is so original during the jamband boom. It seems to be harder and harder these days to write innovative songs that don’t rely solely on “the jam”.


I enjoyed Ten Ton Chicken the next day at the festival as well. I am continuously impressed with the Jamband from Berkeley.


Red Contaire

Music Journalist

The New Electric Review (print edition)

Seattle, WA