Material: The Last Born Sons indulge in meat and potatoes rock & roll, with a side of blues, country, funk and all derivations thereof. While they primarily play an ample docket of classic covers and select contemporary hits, the band gives it their own unique arrangement and spin. With a set consisting of everything from “Cissy Strut” by the Meters, B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone” to modern country fare and reggae, this band crosses many musical paths. A lot of the tunes lend themselves to improvisation and that is the point where much of the material is transformed.
Musicianship: Accomplished would not be too strong a word to use in describing this trio’s level of musicianship. They play over 250 dates a year and there is a simpatico and harmonic camaraderie that comes from experience that is immediately apparent. You get the feel that each member has a sixth sense about where a song is going and appears at ease when making changes on the fly.
Guitarist Matt Havers plays with unfettered dexterity and creates real excitement in his solos. He’s also a fairly chameleonic singer, able to mimic many different artists as the gig requires. Kyle Smithers handles lead and backing vocals as well, but seems to have a more diverse range in his delivery than Havers. He is also quite adept at slap and pop as well as traditional finger style bass. Jonathan Rutter completes the picture; bringing a heavy jazz and funk veneer to the rhythm chair.
Performance: The venue was packed and the band milked the party vibe of the crowd for all it was worth. The trio was in its element and kept steady eye contact and a seamless rapport with the patrons in attendance. There was looseness and a playful interplay between the musicians, but make no mistake, they were tight as a drum. There were many highlights in their show, with select spots for tasty bass and drum breaks. Also, Haver’s blazing fretwork on their countrified version of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” was off the chain!
Summary: It’s easy to see why this band is growing exponentially in musical stature and popularity. They’ve got the goods and convey the music they love in a transparent and most entertaining way. Just like their tip jar, the Last Born Sons’ mix of talent and ambition is overflowing and abundant. They are certainly ones to watch. – Eric A. Harabadian