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Eclectic band Annie In The Water hits Manchester

The music of Annie In The Water is a contagious hybrid of rock, funk and rhythm infused with a feel-good reggae groove. It’s the kind of sound that’s kept Michael Franti bouncing around the globe for decades, done with capability and verve.

For many years the band was a duo; singer-guitarists Michael Lashomb and Bradley Hester met while attending college in upstate New York in 2006. When a female friend fell into a lake trying to tie up her boat, they found a name, and gigged steadily in the region.

Ten years later, Lashomb and Hester began assembling what would grow into a six-piece band. One of their recruits was drummer Josh West, then at a crossroads when his longtime band decided to forego touring for local shows. West stuck around for a couple of years, departing to work on his own record; the collection of songs, completed during the pandemic, will drop next spring.

West returned to the group last summer. In an interesting twist, he replaced the original drummer of Lucid, the band he’d been in before joining the first time. Along with Hester, Lashomb and West, members now include bassist Chris Meier, Matt Richards on keyboards, and percussionist Brock Kuca.

It’s a big sound, West agreed in a recent phone interview.

“We’re really taking the time to explore what it means to play in a band with that many people and all these layers, and make sure that we’re not overplaying,” he said. He’s known Richards since his days in Formula Five and Meier from his earlier band Space Carnival. “We hadn’t really done much playing together; but we’re friends… we’ve respected each other’s musical abilities.”

Influences for the group come from a myriad of sources. West is a big fan of drummer Bernard Purdy, who played with Steely Dan and others, along with Carlton Barrett of the Wailers. He also names Snarky Puppy and Ghost Notes as favorite bands. Others in the group cite festival mainstays like Grateful Dead and Phish, along with ’90s alt rock.

A recent Halloween show was indicative of the group’s wide-ranging oeuvre. “We’re playing everything from Prince to Blink-182 to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Radiohead, to Daft Punk,” West said. “A big eclectic kind of influence there, but I think all these songs really speak lyrically and are kind of timeless pieces.”

When it first came together, the band was mainly a vehicle for the original duo’s material. A debut album, Time To Play, “was pretty much all songs that Brad and Mike had written 10 years ago,” West said. The second studio effort was more collaborative; though he wasn’t on the sessions for this year’s The Sun At Dawn, West called it evolutionary. “Since I’ve been back, that kind of energy has carried over.”

West recalled a recent songwriting session at a hunting camp in northern Vermont, where the band is now based. “We each brought a song to the table, and on top of that, we all have little parts,” he said. “It’s really a very democratic process, [with] open and equal energy… which is very inspiring.”

The newest lineup is already poised to follow up Sun At Dawn.

“We’ve got pretty much a new record of songs that we’ve written in the last three months,” West said. “We’re getting ready to hit the studio for this winter.”

That energy has translated to the stage. “The camaraderie in the band between members is at an all-time high; we’re firing on all cylinders right now,” West continued. “Pretty much every show we’ve been playing lately, the energy is tangible in the room; it’s just something you gotta come check out.”

Jordan Paul’s JigsMusic agency booked the band’s Veterans Day show at Shaskeen Pub in Manchester.

“I’m so excited to bring Annie in the Water back to the Granite State,” Paul said in a recent text message. “We haven’t seen them since before the pandemic. I know they’ve been picking up a lot of steam with their new lineup and I’m very excited to see this new chemistry everyone’s been talking about.”

Annie In The Water w/ DJ SP1
When: Friday, Nov. 1, 9 p.m.
Where: Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester
Tickets: $10 at the door
More: See facebook.com/annieinthewater

Featured photo: Annie In The Water. Courtesy photo.

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