That Toga Band
Contributing Writer : Garret K. Woodward
It’s hard to be a somewhat unknown band in the melodic oasis of Burlington, Vermont.
It’s especially hard when you already possess a raw aptitude for composition paired with a seemingly endless potential for improvisation.
Lurking in the shadows of the Queen City, That Toga Band is a unique experience one might come across at a keg party, a balcony on School Street amid a quite Tuesday evening, during a quick meal at Manhattan Pizza or stirring up more than just a cappuccino at a downtown coffeehouse.
“The sound is based on tone, listening and sonic clarity,” said bass guitarist Thomas Pearo. “We do not try to blow audiences away with a thousand notes a second. Instead, we believe that for every moment there is a perfect note that belongs in that moment. We strive to recognize these notes and let the universe dictate the sonic direction we take.”
Within the nine-instrumental tracks on Air Play (a tenth emerges simply of a garbage truck picking up trash, the eleventh of an on-air radio interview), the attitude is subtle and inviting. Pearo draws comparison to the likes of Kaki King or Bill Frisell. Guitarist Tyler George-Minetti exhibits a dreary blues approach similar to Steve Kimock, while percussionist Anthony Kareckas provides the timing and patience of a seasoned jazz drummer.
“Our sound is intended to be very powerful and dynamic, full of breath, rhythm and harmony,” Pearo said. “Due to the fact that I play bass and rhythm guitar at the same time, our sound has the ability to change from a jazz trio to a power rock trio to a fusion quartet in a moments notice.”
And yet, after the initial listen, one starts to find themselves amused by the character and personality each soundscape holds, intrigued to hit the replay button once more.
Like two balloons tied to a park bench, Pearo and George-Minetti drift through the album, continuously playing cat and mouse while the stable foundation of Kareckas offers the listener a seat to sit, enjoy and immerse.
What results is a performance of life, stripped down to barebones. It’s about quality versus quantity, as they clearly harness the former.
That Toga Band is a group of ambient rockstars who, instead of tearing up hotel rooms, tear through record stores in search of gems from Dan Hicks or the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Instead of pursuing femme fatales, they engage in conversation with cute wallflowers behind thick-rimmed glasses.
“There are so many people out there who are scared of the term love,” said Pearo. “I want to show people that thru music, love can be shared in a way that is not experienced everyday. We strive to heal the sick with our music, to make people dance, laugh, listen and cry. This is what you can experience with That Toga Band, if you want to.”
“Bleedin’ from the Brain”, “Opening Up”, “Adventures of Toga and the Squid”