At the front of the dimly lit venue, a small table of friends and acquaintances gather in an otherwise empty bar. Jesi B and the All Rites are playing their debut set as August’s resident band at the Seaside, but no one’s there to witness their crowning moment.
The Coeur d’Alene group formed haphazardly in 2007 and has waited anxiously to cross into the Spokane market.
“Every scene is different,” guitarist Justyn Priest says. “It’s like apples to oranges. But there isn’t a handful of venues in Coeur d’Alene that would take on a whole band. Especially one that plays original material.”
For years the foursome played backyard venues, benefits and any gig they could get their hands on. The group says the Coeur d’Alene scene is buffeted by two pitfalls. One, it’s a matter of venues versus bars. There isn’t full-fledged music space to build a scene around — and besides, bars are simply more profitable. And two, the few paying gigs are reserved for house bands that can play three to four hours of covers.
That doesn’t leave much room for an original psychedelic blues funk band like Jesi B and the All Rites.
But neither city — Spokane or Coeur d’Alene — seems to have enough room for Jesi Gaboury herself. This is a woman who can’t be ignored.
With a slight quiver in the knees, a shimmy up to the microphone and hands pressed against her side, she delivers gut-wrenching vocals onstage. She’ll kick your ass with a Doors cover like “Roadhouse Blues,” swoon you with a rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” James Brown and Aretha Franklin couldn’t produce such a perfect love child.
The All Rites are funky, creating nice little grooves and knowing just the right times to smother on the jams. The band is too into their instruments to have a connection with the audience — so that’s where Gaboury steps in. Her voice alone does most of the talking, but the occasional commentary is clever and worth a listen.
“It’s so warm in here I didn’t even have to wear sparkles,” she says from the stage last week in dreadlocked hair and blue painted nails. “I’m glistening right around the mustache area.”
The group plays a variety of covers — from Jimi Hendrix to Red Hot Chili Peppers — and the time signatures and melodies have been played with enough to make it sound unique. The band feels a little less comfortable with original songs but has at least built up enough to play an entire set.
Through it all, the group plays the type of music that makes you want to dance like those kids in Dirty Dancing. It’s stuff that appeals to lots of audiences — enough, in fact, that Inlander readers ranked the band third in the 2010 Best Of Poll.
The band sees the residency spot this month at the Seaside as a four-week chance to show more Spokane fans what they’re all about.
“It’s only a four-week residency, but we’re going to keep going after these types of gigs,” Priest says. “A lot of Spokane bands have built a high profile and a name for themselves with shows like these.” So far, the extent of their Spokane career has reached the Lions Lair, the Seaside and the Swamp.
gone from flittering with originals to becoming an original band,”
Priest says. “We hope Spokane will welcome us with open arms.”
Jesi B and the All Rites play the Seaside every Wednesday in August at 8 pm. Tickets: $3. 21 . Visit www.seasidevenue.com or call 455-7826.