On Friday, Nov. 23, the Sonoma Speakeasy and American Music Hall presents the New Copasetics, a top-notch band – with an interesting word as part of their name.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “copasetic” as “agreeable, all right, ducky, fine, good, and hunky dory”. It is thought to have been coined by 1930s-era dancer and actor Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
The New Copasetics are a North bay-based band composed of members who have performed with several well-known musicians.
Tim Eschliman sings, plays the double bass (also known as acoustic string bass), and does most of the talking on stage. Dallis Kraft plays piano and sings. Sean Allen sings a bit and rips it up on the electric and slide guitar. Kevin Hayes keeps all four limbs busy with his drum kit.
Eschliman has worked with Etta James, Jesse Colin Young, the Christmas Jug Band, and Commander Cody. Kraft has played with Bruce Willis and KT Oslin. Sean Allen has shared the stage with Carlene Carter and Commander Cody and local favorite Tommy Thomsen. Kevin Hayes has kept time with his sister, Bonnie Hayes, and Robert Cray.
Tim Eschliman is an ex-Sonoman and the de-facto leader of the band. They have been together for some 10 years, playing all over the Bay Area. He is particularly fond of playing the Speakeasy, and says it “offers the most fun per square foot of any nightclub.”
Now 66, or “God awful old,” as he puts it, Eschliman calls the time he saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” as the seminal musical moment in his life. He has since branched out from that rock ‘n’ roll base.
The New Copasetics play a fiery and swinging brand of music. They call it “semi-acoustic, back porch Americana and Tropicana.” They will toss in a slow song every now and again, but for the most part, their music invites your feet to start moving.
They offer up familiar songs from the Band, Rockpile, Gram Parsons and Hank Williams, among others. The band members have also written several originals that they deliver regularly. Their working motto is, “We either wrote ‘em, or wish we had.”
Their set list includes songs with great titles, such as “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?,” “Funnel of Love,” “Romance Without Finance,” and “Tonight I’m Drinkin’ Tomorrow Away.” They play songs based on inherent goodness, too.
Back in September, the New Copasetics played a well received set on the Saturday of the Vintage Festival. Eschliman and Allen returned about an hour later to back up the great George Frayne, aka Commander Cody of the Lost Planet Airmen.
While the overall musicianship of the band is stellar, it is Allen’s guitar work that stands out. He straps on that blonde Telecaster, plugs it into his Princeton amp, and lets his slender fingers fly. Allen has mastered the “chicken picking” style of twang and he can belt out blues licks like nobody’s business.
Eschliman says of Allen: “Sean has honest guitar sounds. He doesn’t use a lot of pedals. Maybe a little reverb or vibrato. You can really hear what he is trying to say when he plays.”
Gary Vogensen, the Marin County veteran guitar player and teacher, has known Allen for many years. About Allen, he comments, “When we play together it’s simply comfortable, and wonderful things happen.”
Who: New Copasetics
Where: Sonoma Speakeasy,
452 First St. East
When: Friday, Nov. 23