Live Review: DRAGONDEER At Hotel Cafe


Hotel Cafe  Hollywood, CA


The Players: Eric Halborg, vocals, guitar, harmonica; Cole Rudy, lap steel, mandolin; Carl Sorensen, drums; Casey Sidwell, bass.

Material: Putting a modern twist on an old-school genre, Dragondeer’s combination of psych-rock and southern blues is not an attempt to mimic the past. Instead, this band make its mark with reverb soaked lap steels, mandolins and hearty vocals, combining the present and the past in a good way. It’s like stepping into a time machine set to the ‘60s, but taking what’s cool today along for the ride.

Musicianship: Whether standing directly on top of the mic or 10 feet away, Halbor’s vocals are crystal clear and released with ease. Even with his heavy harmonica playing, he is always in control. Rudy’s energy flies though his hands as he vigorously manipulates his lap steel. The same energy transfers over, as he dresses his mandolin with heavy reverb, filling every pocket of dead space. Sorensen’s timing is impeccable on the drums, colored with free flowing flare and charisma. Sidwell kills his bass solos with fingers so fast it’s hard to tell if they are even moving.

Performance: Despite the venue’s headcount diminishing to bare bones after the previous act, Dragondeer performed with the energy of playing to a full house. In their defense, it was after 11 on a Tuesday evening. Put these boys in a bar setting on a Saturday night and they would surely pack the place to capacity. They slipped into moments that were a little jam-bandy, dragging out solos to the point of almost too long, but it was hard not to be drawn in by each individual talent. Even as they trailed off into their improvisational wonderland, the band kept perfectly in sync with one another. They kept their set list at six songs and closed out the evening with an impressive cover of “Gimme Some Lovin’.”

Summary: Performing in Los Angeles for the first time was no sweat for Dragondeer. These players are confident in themselves and their material, which sets a solid foundation for a promising future. With a little more exposure outside their home base of Colorado, these boys will be ready to hit the national tour scene.  – Allegra Azzopardi