Among his many claims to fame, Mike Dillon played with Ani DiFranco for five years and toured with Les Claypool from 2002 to 2009. His relationship with both artists continues. Photo courtesy of Zack Smith - Photo courtesy of Zack Smith

Mike Dillon at the Applegate Lodge

After nearly 30 years as a sideman in various bands, Mike Dillon decided it was time to form and front his own project. His intentions were threefold: to showcase original music, to have a consistent performance and recording outlet, and to mentor young musicians.

"It's fun being a sideman, and it's fun being in a band, but I'm at the point where I want a band where I can play my own music," says the New Orleans-based vibraphonist and percussionist.

Last year, Dillon formed The Mike Dillon Band, in addition to playing with Seattle jazz and funk bands The Dead Kenny G's and Garage A Trois.

His new project includes three "serious music kids" — drummer Adam Gertner, bassist and guitarist Cliff Hines and "badass punk-rock trombonist" Carly Meyers. All three musicians are in their early 20s.

"The music is our common bond," says Dillon, 47. "I don't feel like I'm their dad or their uncle. I'm just this goofball that's made music a lot longer than them."

The quartet is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Applegate River Lodge, 15100 Highway 238, Applegate. Cover is $10. Call 541-761-9394.

The multistate tour is in support of Dillon's recent album, "Urn," released Sept. 25 on The Royal Potato Family label.

One reviewer wrote, "The album reminds me of everything I love about the New Orleans scene. Undefined, energetic, balls-to-the-walls."

The band's music is wild, experimental and complex and is a combination of punk-rock and jazz with "a heavy New Orleans groove underneath it all." Most of Dillon's songs are instrumental, but some feature surreal and abstract lyrics sung old-school, hip-hop style.

"Someone called us, 'Milt Jackson meets Fugazi meets Black Flag,' " Dillon says.

An article published earlier this month in New Orleans' OffBeat Magazine read: "Mike Dillon's music is not your granddaddy's bebopping, finger-snapping, shades and beret, too-cool-for-school jazz. It has an intensity and attitude taken from punk rock and a slightly dirty, loud sound that is found more on rock 'n' roll and electronica records. The songs have a deceptive complexity — they sound simple in that you can sing and dance to them, but they change textures and parts on a dime. Few musicians combine the chops and vision of Mike Dillon."

On stage, Dillon takes the lead on vibes, which he runs through effects and pedals to create a percussive rather than piano sound.

"Most vibraphonists play jazz or classical, but I bring it to rock clubs and punk clubs, and I tend to get very intense and fly all over the place and beat the heck out of the instrument," he says.

"Mike Dillon sounds like Mike Dillon. I don't sound like anyone else. It sounds like me. Love it or hate it."

For more information, look for The Mike Dillon Band on Facebook.

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