music / Columns

Jam Central Station: The Motet

July 1, 2017 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

Despite being around for nearly 20 years, The Motet often don’t get the recognition that they deserve as influencers and forebearers of the modern funk/jam movement. Maybe it’s the fact that they have had some significant turnover throughout the years (the only original member is drummer/bandleader Dave Watts), maybe it’s the fact that they weren’t based in a funk hotbed (Colorado), but, whatever the reason, The Motet deserves much more credit than they get. The band has had amazing staying power, great versatility, and put on one of the best dance parties you’re going to see.

The early years of The Motet consisted of Watts managing an ever-changing cast of characters. The vision was primarily his, but he took great care in reaching out to some of the best musicians he could find to collaborate with. Plenty of names passed through the group during that time, including Dominic Lalli who would go on to form Big Gigantic, and Watts, took the roll of not only bandleader and drummer but also producer and creative force for the band. They moved through funk, jazz, and afrobeat, always building grooves to make people party. They also early on took to creating themed shows, particularly for their Halloween shows where they would put together full sets dedicated to artists such as Prince, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Tower of Power.

By the mid 2000’s they established some continuity, with Watts, Ryan Jalbert on guitar, Joey Porter on keys, Jans Ingber on vocals, Garrett Sayers on bass, and Scott Messersmith on percussion. This lineup helped the band truly take off. 2006’s Instrumental Dissent was a relative success for the band, and 2009’s Dig Deep went in a very solid afrobeat direction. Messersmith left the band in 2011, but Ingber was able to step up and add percussion as well as his vocal duties, and the band had no problem continuing to move forward. Their Halloween shows were fan favorites, they were touring clubs and ballrooms around the country, and they had the opportunity to work with artists many well-known funk musicians.

After taking a few years off of recording, they released a self-titled album in 2014. This album showed a much more collaborative effort, a departure from how the band had previously operated. Everyone participated in brainstorming ideas and writing on the album. The result was an extremely tight sounding funky album that forced those who hadn’t paid much attention to the band to this point to take notice. Unfortunately, in 2015 Jans Ingber left the band. They quickly added Lyle Divinsky to vocals, and his energetic style made him more than capable of performing as the frontman for the group.

2016 saw the band release Totem, an album that quickly established Divinsky as a key member of the group due to his impressive vocal work. It was another collaborative effort, and the band even brought in Eric Krasno to produce the effort. The past few years have seen the band perform at many festivals, including performing multiple sets and special “mixtape” sets at many events.

Over recent years The Motet has become one of the top funk draws on the jam band circuit. They’re often seen late night alongside bands like Lettuce or Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. They have all of the talent, diversity, and showmanship to have earned their spot. After nearly 20 years they show every indication of continuing to grow and move into new directions.

Karoondinha Festival Cancelled
The inaugural Karoondinha festival was cancelled this week. The festival was scheduled to include some heavy hitters and few jam-related artists. However, the Deep Roots Festival in West Virginia, scheduled for the same weekend, has offered to honor Karoondinha tickets so that fans can enjoy live music and camping that weekend. Awesome gesture from Deep Roots.

Gov’t Mule announces Island Exodus 9
Gov’t Mule will return to Jamaica for Island Exodus 9. The destination event will take place from January 13-17 at Island Paradise Cove in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. The event will include sets from Gov’t Mule, a Warren Haynes solo set, JJ Grey & Mofro, and others.

Lettuce announce dates
Lettuce announce additional dates to their fall tour. The band will be on the road through late September at this point.

September 8 Charlotte, NC – The Underground
September 9 Richmond, VA – Groovin on Richmond
September 10 Greensboro, NC – Cone Denim
September 11 Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater
September 13 Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
September 14 Fredericton, NB – Harvest Festival
September 16 Canton, MA – Festival at the Farm
September 17 Buffalo, NY – The Tralf
September 20 Little Rock, AR – Revolution Music Room
September 21 Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
September 22 Dallas, TX – Granada Theater
September 23 Utopia, TX – Utopiafest

Electric Forest II
June 29-July 2
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lotus, Big Gigantic, Nahko & Medicine for the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Lettuce, Matisyahu, The Motet

Friendly Gathering
June 29-July 1
Waitsfield, VT
Twiddle, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Turkuaz, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Moon Hooch

High Sierra
June 29-July 2
Quincy, CA
Trey Anastasio Band, Ween, Galactic, Mike Gordon, Fruition

June 30-July 2
Turin, NY
Moe., Blackberry Smoke, Fishbone, Railroad Earth, Ryan Montbleau, Twiddle, Floodwood, Kung Fu

Camp Bisco
July 13-15
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
The Disco Biscuits (6 sets), Bassnectar, GRiZ, Pretty Lights, Lotus, Twidle, Turkuaz, Electric Beethoven, Break Science, Beats Antique, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Werks

Northwest String Summit
July 13-16
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Del McCoury Band, JJ Grey & Mofro, Elephant Revival, Fruition, Turkuaz,

Levitate Music & Arts Fest
July 8-9
Marshfield, MA
Dispatch, Umphrey’s McGee, Ziggy Marley, Lake Street Drive, The Revivalists, Twiddle, JJ Grey & Mofro, Rubblebucket

Deep Roots Mountain Revival
July 20-22
Marvins Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Brandi Carlile, Lettuce, Yonder Mountain String Band, Dr. Dog, The Motet, JJ Grey & Mofro, Moon Taxi, White Denim, TAUK

Floydfest 17: Freedom
July 26-30
Floyd, VA
Michael Franti & Spearhead, St. Paul & Broken Bones, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Shovels & Rope, Turkuaz, TUAK, Fruition

Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival
August 11-13
Alta, WY
The Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush Band, Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

August 18-20
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass, Sam Bush Band, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Fruition, Joshua Davis, Larry Keel Experience, Billy Strings, The Accidentals, The Crane Wives

August 24-27
Arrington, VA
The Avett Brothers, Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, moe, Greensky Bluegrass, John Butler Trio, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, TAUK

Grand Point North
September 16-17
Waterfront Park
Burlington, VT
Trey Anastasio Band, Grace Potter, Dawes, Joseph, Son Little, Hurray for the Riff Raff

The Festy Experience
October 5-8
Infinity Downs
Arrington, VA
The Infamous Stringdusters, Ani DiFranco, Drive By Truckers, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, Jerry Douglas, Cabinet, Billy Strings, Beats Antique

Hillberry Music Festival
October 12-15
Eureka Springs, AR
Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Dumpstaphunk, Dirtfoot

Suwannee Roots Revival
October 12-15
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Wood Brothers, Peter Rowan Dharma Blues featuring Jack Cassidy, Donna the Buffalo, Steep Canyon Rangers

Hangtown Music Festival
October 26-29
Placerville, CA
Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Dark Star Orchestra, Leftover Salmon, Turkuaz

Suwannee Hulaween
October 27-29
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
The String Cheese Incident, Ween, Bassnectar, The Disco Biscuits, Portugal The Man, Lettuce, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Benevento/Russo Duo, Greensky Bluegrass, Kamasi Washington, TAUK, Dumpstafunk, Spafford

Dominican Holidaze
December 1-5
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, The Disco Biscuits, GRiZ, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, TAUK, The Motet, Lotus, Spafford

Strings & Sol
December 8-12
Now Sapphire
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition

Gov’t Mule’s Island Exodus
January 13-17
Jewel Paradise Cove
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes, JJ Grey & Mofro

Jam in the Sand
January 18-22
Jewel Paradise Cove
Ruanaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, Hot Tuna, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Jam Cruise
January 17-22
Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Maceo Parker, Lotus, Lettuce, Gramatik, Keller Williams, The New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk, Turkuaz, The Main Squeeze

Panic En La Playa
January 26-30
Riviera Maya, Mexico

June 7-10
Manchester, TN

Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!