Josh Sweigert

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May 1, 2013
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Jam band Bumptet to groove Crystal Bay

Bay Area band the Bumptet will bring its funky jams to Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room on Saturday.

“We all kind of come from a jam band school,” guitarist Sean Lehe told Lake Tahoe Action. “We all came up through the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers and Santana and Phish, that kind of music.”

Bumptet is Lehe, Jonathan Stoyanoff (bass), Barry Eldridge (drums), Adam Walter (saxophone) and Sam Phelps (keys).

Stoyanoff and Lehe started the band in 2010 in Chico with drummer Zach Bowden, Lehe said. Just as the project was gaining momentum, having recorded a live CD, Bowden was hired by musician Jackie Greene. Shortly thereafter, Lehe signed on with Poor Man’s Whiskey, and the Bumptet went on break.

The group reformed in 2011, testing out a new sound.

“We were going out with more of a ‘70s fusion vibe, folks were kind of upset with us,” Lehe said.

The band went on hiatus again for the first half of 2012 when Lehe was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder that affects hearing and equilibrium.

Now, after eight symptom-free months, Lehe and bandmates are working to develop the Bumptet’s sound, striking a balance between the group’s jam roots and the newer musical direction. The band’s current lineup was set in November, Lehe said.

“The people that are coming to see us play, the people that are our friends are used to us providing them with a groove and a dance party,” the guitarist said. “So how are we going to marry this eclectic sound, of kind of a headier fusion type sound that we were aspiring to... how do we marry that to what we’re already steeped in?

“What we’re doing with the Bumptet is kind of like a West Coast Booker T and the MGs for the 21st century.”

For now, the group is focused on instrumental sets. That may change soon, as the Bumptet is playing with the idea of adding guest artists for shows, Lehe said, mentioning a possible emcee and a vocalist.

“Right now we’re just putting on a really, really tight instrumental show,” he said. “Very exploratory at times, very groove-oriented.”

The Bumptet is looking forward to the Crystal Bay show, its members having played both the Red Room and the Crown Room in the past with other bands.

“It’s one of the best-sounding rooms in California,” Lehe said. “My experience playing there has always been awesome.”

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Sierra Sun Updated May 2, 2013 11:23AM Published May 1, 2013 05:56PM Copyright 2013 Sierra Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.