The Aristocrats — hippies on jazz

Trio makes a meal of the Kentucky Meat Shower of 1876

Jazzy prog-rock trio the Aristocrats leave no genre untouched.
  • Jazzy prog-rock trio the Aristocrats leave no genre untouched.

Stranger than fiction by a country mile: the Kentucky meat shower, as reported by the New York Times in March of 1876 was a filthy (and thankfully short-lived) rain of little pieces of raw meat that fell from the skies over the township of Rankin, Kentucky. Abhorrent? Yes, but somehow inspirational to guitarist Guthrie Govan, who, 135 years later, give or take, would exhibit some Zappa-esque humor in the crafting of the blood-gristle-and-body-parts shower story into material for his band, the Aristocrats. Hippies on jazz, the Aristocrats are, in that the power trio seems not only to love all music, but to be capable of playing it with intensity and bravura. Classical, reggae, prog rock, metal, ’60s pop, and fusion — which is not another name for bad jazz.


...the Aristocrats, a live performance

...the Aristocrats, a live performance

You have to be a skilled instrumentalist to play this kind of music. Just ask Joe Satriani, for whom two of the Aristocrats have worked — drummer Marco Minnemann and bassist Bryan Beller. This guitar-bass-drums trio came to be, as the story goes, following a no-pay jam session during the Winter NAMM convention in 2011. The future Aristocrats enjoyed their synergy on that day and hustled off to record. Their debut self-titled disc blew minds and landed on more than a few of that year’s best-of roundups and top-ten lists. In fewer than 12 months, the Aristocrats went from zero-dollar jams to money and pop-music magazine covers.

The problem? There is no prog-rock note left unplayed, and no amount of instrumental prowess we haven’t yet seen or heard. Where the Aristocrats step up and out of the fray of warp speed, blinding-flash, and squeaky-clean concert skills is via their uniting of virtually every genre into a cunning musical three-way interchange that is both familiar and unfamiliar, arresting, and purely random. And now and then, lest they offend, a power chord or two.

Travis Larson also performs.

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