When guitarist Chris Zanardi dishes out the inside scoop on his band Five Eyed Hand, there’s no shortage of quirky band member details befitting the ensemble’s fusion psychedelic-meets-funk soundscape. Drummer Derek Bodkin isn’t just an anomalous frontman from behind the kit, he’s also an award-winning professional whistler (he performs a whistle solo on the song “Good Mood Trot”). Bassist Jeb Taylor was struck by lightning as a child while hiking the Himalaya (“I think it messed up his vocals during his adolescent years and he’s the only member that doesn’t sing,” Zanardi laughs). Violinist Mike Henderson is known to untraditionally whip out the slide here and there (“He’s a virtuoso that plays everything from classical to rock”). With each member brandishing his own extensive resume of projects, Five Eyed Hand formed in 2006 to boast a motley crew of experiences and styles that continues to go strong. From sexy funk to beastly bluegrass jams to precise jazz instrumentals, the quartet hits Don Quixote’s with Marco Benevento on Friday, Dec. 3.
The band just got back to town from an Oregon tour, recently played alongside the Mother Hips and Yonder Mountain String Band in Yosemite, and is about to release a new studio album. “We’re firing on all cylinders with a lot of good energy right now,” Zanardi tells me on the phone during his drive to the Pinnacles. “We’re the little band that could; the slow turtle, but we’re not going away.” With Zanardi composing most of the instrumental numbers and Bodkin filling in singer/songwriter duties, Five Eyed Hand has grown its cache of songs to the point where a three-night run can rock out without repeating a tune. Taylor’s throbbing bass lines are a driving force on stage, while Henderson’s monster solos on the mini-strings are head-turning. With multi-instrumental wizardry popping up in all corners of the stage during a set, as synthesizer, banjo, and even ukulele now make their way into the hands of the players, Five Eyed Hand catches audiences off guard with an avant-garde mosaic of skills. (Photo Credit: Kimberley Bermender)
INFO: 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Hwy 9, Felton. $12. 603-2294. fiveeyedhand.com.