Chops — local band with bite
Dapper Dan was on guitar at the audience’s left, furiously fingering the strings as waves of rock rolled through in crescendos — climbing higher and higher.
He looked over at Scott Hart, hanging out under long, wavy hair at the keyboard. Hart, playing the keys and singing lead, was turned around, changing his levels with his left hand while playing with his right.
Dapper, riding the growing swells of rock, jacked his eye brows up, and mouthed a question to Hart, “One more?” referring to another round in the instrumental tornado. He mouthed the words again until finally bassist Dirty Dan, sporting the sideburns that inspired the band’s name, yelled it out loud: “One more!!” They all bowed heads with long hair into focused playing to produce the raging torrent of sound.
The band Chops played its first gig in Carson City on Saturday. Founded by two Dans direct from the hills of the Comstock, Dirty Dan Cormany and Dapper Dan Salas, and joined by Scott Hart in August, the band did quite well for it’s first trip to the “city.”
“Joe Bob was very impressed,” said bartender Johnny Riders.
“The only band that made more money throughout the year was the band that played during New Year’s,” said Hart later. “And that’s not because of the band; it’s because it’s was New Year’s Eve.”
Other members of Chops are drummer Joe English, who also plays for the Reno band Halligan and studies firefighting at University of Nevada, Reno and part-time guitar player Andy Jorgensen.
Chops played an unstoppable list of classic tracks: Led Zeppelin, a sweet version of Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing” and closing with a wicked version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.”
Dapper Dan did “want to make it cry and scream,” when he emulated Mark Knopfler’s lead guitar on “Sultans.” He wrapped it up with an impressive rendition of the rolling finish — the one that makes even attentive drivers wrinkle their forehead and roll their neck when it comes on classic rock stations.
But it wasn’t all cover songs. In fact, the band aims to do about half and half, with original material some of the freshest, tightest stuff it lays down.
Hart caught the crowd’s attention Saturday by starting one song with a bossy, rockin’ organ intro. The band jumped in to join him like good friends backing him up in a righteous fistfight.
Dirty Dan played his bass lines standing at full attention — chest out and instrument held high. He wore a blousy shirt, open in front and reminiscent of early 1970s rockers like Mick Fleetwood. Drummer Joe English, perched quietly behind the kit like a bulldog, just closed his eyes and jammed.
The band’s sound guy is Roger Anderson, who is also their boss at CSE Construction, where the guys are framing custom homes until they hit the big time. Other than not being able to hear Dapper’s vocals over the strings a few times, the sound was clean and tight.
Hart made a point of thanking his wife of 15 years, Robin Hart, the band’s graphic artist and public relations person, for all her help. He also thanked Dave Michno of ATC Sound in Carson City, who, he said, offered the use of experimental ribbon planar speakers for the Joe Bob’s show.
“They were really good speakers and awesome, awesome guys,” he said.
Edward Salas, Dapper’s dad, is working on a video documentary of the band at his business, Timecast. It should be out within a couple of weeks, said Hart.
Overall, Chops reminds one of a gentle Metallica with musical shoots reaching as far as Johnny Cash and Jefferson Airplane. But there’s something else there, something raw and undefinable. That part, I suspect, is pure Chops.