Who the hell are the Mississippi Hot Dogs?
Well, they’re four musical blues-crusaders: two up-and-coming youngbloods jamming with two legendary and seasoned veterans.
So what kind of music do they play?
The Mississippi Hot Dogs’ main business is providing super-charged electric blues wrapped in a jam-filled rock package, delivered with the explosive energy of the Allman Brothers Band and the creative, in-your-face punch of the North Mississippi All Stars.
Okay, so who, really, are these four denizens of live-wire blues?
The first is Kevin Maul. He is the musical equivalent of the dual Superman/ Clark Kent persona. When he’s up on the bandstand performing, Maul’s the consummate slide-guitar wielding superhero always dazzling audiences with his pounding hammer-of-the-gods instrumental virtuosity and take-no-prisoners guitar pyrotechnics.
For a guy who masterfully plays the tri-necked pedal-steel guitar behind the legendary rock ‘n’ roll chanteuse Wanda Jackson and who was a weekly regular for more than 10 years on Garrison Keillor’s “The Prairie Home Companion” as an indispensable member of the Robin and Linda Williams & Their Fine Group, Maul is affable and mild-mannered off the bandstand.
The second is bandleader and monster bassist Tony Markellis. He’s a nationally venerated musician whose tenure with the Trey Anastasio Band and his founding work with two seminal Vermont-based groups, Kilimanjaro and the Unknown Blues Band, have catapulted him into a position as a musical deity on his chosen instrument.
Up next in the line-up is Chris Kyle. He has distinguished himself regionally as a superb lead guitarist and solid musical collaborator on and off the bandstand with the sublime singer-songwriter, Sara Pedinotti, in the alt-rock, experimental-psychedelic-pop juggernaut, Railbird.
The last band member is Chris Carey. He’s one of those humble drummers that consistently deliver the rhythmic, rock-solid backbeat to any song, regardless of music category or style. Propelling Railbird, his command of the drum kit shifts song-by-song from blues to rock to jazz with an experimental twist.
So how was the show that Thursday night at Putnam Den?
In one word: Magical!
The concert was chock-full of searing dual-guitar leads exchanged relentlessly between Maul and Kyle, while the hand-in-glove rhythmic beat perfected by Markellis and Carey was metronome solid.
In the words of a spectator drinking at the bar, the music that night was simply, “Fucking awesome!”
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
The second in a series of concerts curated by Tony Markellis at Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs takes place at 9pm on Friday (December 30), when Markellis and Maul return to team up with vocalist-drummer Dale Haskell as the acoustic blues power trio No Outlet. Admission is $5.