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Dubtown Cosmonauts
Sat., Jan. 5th • 9 p.m.
The Whiskey
1 S. Front St.
$5 cover • (910) 763-3088

DUBTOWN GOES DEADHEAD: Local act Dubtown Cosmonauts will play two sets at The Whiskey: one full of Grateful Dead songs and the other full of Phish. Courtesy photo (Not pictured: saxophonist Todd Wade)

DUBTOWN GOES DEADHEAD: Local act Dubtown Cosmonauts will play two sets at The Whiskey: one full of Grateful Dead songs and the other full of Phish. Courtesy photo (Not pictured: saxophonist Todd Wade)

While Phil Lesh and Jon Fishman will not be making any appearances in Wilmington this month (Greenfield Lake, get on that for this summer), Deadheads and Phish fans can still check out some of the groups’ most iconic songs live on Saturday, January 5th. The local funkadelic jam band Dubtown Cosmonauts will dedicate two sets to the tunes for a special, custom show at The Whiskey.

What’s even more exciting is that the Cosmonauts are actually building each set list from fan submissions. By visiting the Facebook event they’re running (www.Facebook.com/events/176682502472043) and posting a Grateful Dead or Phish song, folks are making their mark on the concert.

For those unfamiliar, Dubtown Cosmonauts is a musical collaboration between several Southeastern NC-based musicians. While the line-up has transformed several times in the past three years, one thing remains the same: The Cosmonauts are here to jam.

“Our first show was in early 2009,” guitarist Tom Shaw shares. “We all had different projects going on at the time, but Wilmington has a very tight-knit music scene with a lot of collaboration going on, and we love it for that. Tyler [Simmons, keys] had a date on hold at The Whiskey and asked a few of us if we wanted to come out and play with him—maybe learn a few covers and just improvise for most of the night. We assembled a five- or six-person band of our friends, and it ended up being a lot of fun, so we kept doing it.”

With Shaw and Simmons on board since the beginning, the group currently comprises Matthew Beaty (guitar, vocals), Nick Gliarmis (guitar), Justin Heter (drums), Alex Voutsinas (bass), and Todd Wade (saxophone). Their catalogue includes a lengthy list of original compositions, as well as a plethora of covers from a surprising cast of characters. At regular shows fans can hear anything from The Allman Brothers Band, Soulive, Medeski Martin and Wood, Stevie Wonder, Sound Tribe Sector 9, and more. As long as the music presents an interesting element—be it jazz, funk, blues, rock or psychedelic—they’re gratified.

As the Dubtown Cosmonauts become more involved with the charm and intrigue of their music, their goal to cooperate and conspire comes to fuller realization. “Our sound, in terms of style, hasn’t changed that much,” Shaw admits. “However, we’ve become more comfortable playing together, which in turn has allowed for us to take the music places we hadn’t been able to before.”

The improvisation which is such an integral part of the Cosmonauts’ makeup is exactly what brought the fan-suggested set-list idea to mind. During practice one evening, Beaty was flipping through a Grateful Dead song book. Simply playing around, he began singing and strumming the vintage tunes on his guitar.

“One of us asked, ‘What if we played a whole set of Grateful Dead at one of our shows?’” Shaw describes. “And naturally, if you know us, you know that a full set of Dead could only be followed by a full set of Phish!”

Between just three of the Dubtown Cosmonauts band mates, they’ve seen about 100 Phish shows. Though some are more influenced by the Grateful Dead, and vice versa, both acts have greatly impacted each member’s love for music.

“We’re all excited, because when you go see bands like these, the set list changes every time,” Shaw claims. “You never really know what you’re going to hear. This time, we actually get to write the set list, and the fans get to submit their requests—two things that seldom happen when you see bands [such as] these.”

As of press, over 30 fans have chimed in with their favorite songs, from “West L.A. Fadeaway” to “Run Like an Antelope.” Someone even requested Big Ball Jam, in which each member of Phish would toss a ball out to the crowd, and when their ball was hit by a fan, they’d play a note. Still, Dubtown Cosmonauts wouldn’t give too much away.

“The reception has been great,” Shaw says. “It’s a lot of fun seeing first-hand what everybody wants to hear. We will say that we have been keeping up with the requests on the event page and taking note of which songs are getting the most requests… So whatever you do, take care of your shoes.”

Though keeping up with a collaboration of seven musicians can be difficult, the group expects to have a stronger hold in the ILM music scene in 2013. “With all of our hectic schedules, Dubtown is a nice escape from the daily grind for us,” Shaw shares. “We have a great time playing together, and there is so much talent in the band that it’s always fresh and fun. You can definitely expect more shows around Wilmington throughout the year—and judging by the reception we’ve received from this concept, it is very likely we’ll throw a few more shows like this in the mix, too.”

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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