I stumbled on the band D’Santi, as I walked down 6th street around noon time and they were jamming at Chuggin Monkey. The one thing that caught my attention more than anything else was the fact that they were playing these very rock and blues songs with a conga player. As the jam session ended and I returned to walking down 6th street the manager of the band gave me a card and said, “We’re playing here tonight. Make sure you come check it out.” Little did I know that the jam session was just the beginning of a beautiful discovery.
At Mug Shots on 7th Street later that evening D’Santi played a very short and sweet set for a slowly growing crowd. This rock band knows more than the music they play, they know the crowd they play for. The instrumental opener gave everyone the chance to see the capabilities of each musician. The conga player’s technique made a round and rich sound. The drummer was the showman of the group. Every song was played with animation. He was fun to watch. The guitarist plays with passion and what seems like an effortless approach to performing. And the bassists, the foundation of the music, varied playing styles put the icing on the cake. Together, they bring all of their influences to the music. After the set at Mug Shots, I got to talk with lead guitarist, Michael D’Santi.
Mike Johnson and Paul D’Santi
How did D’Santi get started? “The drummer is my brother and our dad played in a band, he played guitar. [He played us] A lot of good music. Albums were being played constantly. So it was like, ‘Wait a minute, something’s up here.’ He saw that we had a little bit of inspiration and he started taking us to good shows. Like Albert King and George Benson. More guitar players. Except, we were kids, we didn’t know what was going on. But there was something there.”
“Then, the conga player Mike Johnson, came into the picture. His dad played guitar too, so our dads hooked us up and we used to always have jams on saturdays. Then that week we found Rick, the bass player, and ever since then we’ve been going.” Or as many would say, ‘the rest this history.’
Being such a tight and solid group must mean y’all have been playing together for quite some time. How long have y’all been playing together? “On and off for like 20 years. We’ve done a lot of different things but now we’re back and we’re trying to hit it again. We’re trying not to give up on it.”
Now y’all are here at SXSW. How did that happen? How are you liking it? “This happened through Bryan (the bands manager) actually. He hooked us up. He said, ‘hey I got a gig out here if you guys wanna come do it.’ And we said sure. So here we are.”
“Oh love it. [We’ve] Been here a few tiimes when it wasn’t the festival. Just to cruise down 5th and 6th and some of the suburb area like S. Congress and what not. There’s amazing players out here. The music is great.”
So, born and raised in LA and the band is based out of LA. How do you like it? “Um… it’s starting to get a little rough. [Laugh] Musically and art wise it’s too spread out. This is nice because it’s essentially in it’s own spot. Hopefully something soon will change. It’s very money hungry at times and it hurts that the bands are suffering from that.”
Any touring plans coming up? “We pop in here and there. You know like this, where we do little one’s and what not.”
Their new CD “Groove D’luxe” is now available. Their next gig is in Claremont, California at The Hip Kitty. Special thanks to D’santi and Bryan Scott.
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