Sure, it’s the punchline of the epic as-dirty-and-shaggy-as-you-want-to-make-it joke, but it’s also the name of one of the most frenetically entertaining instrumental Rock/Fusion power trios in recent memory. The Aristocrats first assembled in 2011, when bassist Bryan Beller (known for his work with Mike Keneally, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, etc.) and drummer Marco Minnemann (known for his work with Adrian Belew, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani, etc.) had booked a trio gig at the winter National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) conference, but were left as a duo when their guitarist flaked days before the show.
Renowned solo/touring guitarist Guthrie Govan (known for his work with Asia, Steven Wilson) filled in at the last possible moment; the three met for the first time at rehearsal the night before the gig. The NAMM audience was floored by their performance and the trio agreed that to explore its substantial chemistry in the studio.
Three months later, The Aristocrats recorded their eponymous debut album, featuring three compositions from each member. Last year, the band followed up with the astonishing double live document, Boing, We’ll Do It Live! and this year sees the release of the trio’s sophomore studio outing, the slinky and powerful Culture Clash.
Like its predecessors, Culture Clash finds The Aristocrats examining the intersections of the members’ varied but connected influences — the Jazz/Fusion muscle of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, the powerful and sinewy Rock of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, Prog icons King Crimson and supergroup U.K., the circuitous intricacies of Frank Zappa, the groove Metal bombast of early Incubus and Rage Against the Machine. On Culture Clash, the trio even takes a stab at the full bore Jazz/Surfabilly swing of Brian Setzer on the propulsive and regionally appropriate “Louisville Stomp.” (Brian Baker)
THE ARISTOCRATS perform Friday, Aug. 9 with Doug Johns and School of Rock Mason Band at the Sanctuary in Newport's Southgate House Revival. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get show details here.