The Sweatshop Band plays a high-powered musical blend of influences. - Mobius Productions

Get out your dance cards

The Sweatshop Band's music somehow defies description, save to say that the group plays groove-shakin' party music that — by all accounts — promises to be a good time.

The group's original music is laced with reflections of ska, new wave and bluegrass. The song's lyrics are upbeat, wry and clever. There's also some wild acoustic finger-picking, tribal drumming and one or two horns thrown into the mix. It brings to mind something like Oingo Boingo's 1985 album "Dead Man's Party." But that's not really it, either.

"We can't play just one style of music," says lead singer Zeb Edelman. "All of the musical genre influences are there, but it (the music) is it's own thing. Each song is different.

"We're a pop band with no direction," Edelman says.

The band has dozens of original songs to its credit and has recorded many of them on full-length albums. "Velvet Touch" was released in 2006. Prior to that, there was "Mr. Green," "I am Yellow" and a basement recording titled "August Live."

"The song writing is a collaboration between me and Kevin (Staley)," Edelman says. "He'll write most of the lyrics, and then we'll work together until we find something that I really like."

Along with lead vocals — and comical behavior and lyrics, Edelman provides the bass lines for the band. Staley plays electric mandolin with wah-wah and phaser effects and acoustic guitar.

"Every song does its own thing; they're like children," Edelman says. "They grow on their own, and we just kind of push them along. We don't set out to write a certain type of song. We just let it happen.

"Sometimes we get it, and sometimes we don't."

But they nailed it when they wrote "Settle Down."

"Kevin wrote the music for that one," Edelman says. "We wanted to write a song that would say something about the struggle between wanting to get married and wanting to live free and die young."

Another, "Disco Fever," is a ska-flavored, fast-paced lament to the '70s dance scene.

"Our old guitarist and I wrote that one," Edelman says. "He said that if we were going to write a song about disco, we had to include dancing, bitches and cocaine in the chorus.

The Sweatshop band formed in Moscow, Idaho, about seven years ago while its members were attending the University of Idaho. The group is now based in Portland.

Damon Gardyne is the band's banjo, bouzouki and keyboard player, and Josh Diggs plays drums. Horn player Michael Jones will join the band for the show at the Jefferson State Pub.

Edelman says he is the only music major from UI who plays in the band.

"Everyone comes from different backgrounds," he says. "Josh is the newest member. He's been playing in bands since he was 17. We found him on Craigslist.

"He has a lot of skill, and we're adding samba beats and Latin style to our music," Edelman says. "We've written about 10 new songs together, and I'm really excited about it. We're ready to create another album."

The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Jefferson State Pub, 31B Water St., Ashland. Admission costs $3. Call 482-7718.

Share This Story