Mingo Fishtrap is big enough to fill the Wolcott Yacht Club’s outdoor venue with music, and if what James Brown says is true, “The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing,” then the Wolcott Yacht Club is a trouble-free zone.
Everything about them is big. Eight players with big voices, big licks and big music.
Roger Blevins is a big guy who fronts the band with his vocals and guitar, falling in with Dane Farnsworth and Chip Vayenas, while Steve Butts (trumpet), Dab Bechdolt (sax) and Zol Waterhouse (trombone) swap riffs.
Listen to the music and you’ll hear a little N’Awlins, some Old School R&B and soul, a little Neville Brothers, some Motown and anything with horns.
“It’s a big band and everyone brings a little something to the table. The band has changed and developed, depending on what we’re listening to,” Blevins said.
Studying jazz studies?
They got together in their dorm at the University of North Texas. Blevins is a Mississippi native and his dad is a musician, so he comes to the trade honest.
He was missing the music of his roots, so he pulled together some musician buddies from the school’s jazz studies program for some Old School funk and soul tunes.
University of North Texas was one of the country’s top-three jazz programs. It still is, it turns out.
“It was fertile soil for us to plant our feet in and put down some musical roots,” Blevins said.
Mingo and Fishtrap are two roads at an intersection on the outskirts of Denton, Texas. The intersection was farmland, a beauty salon in the back of a house and a junkyard that didn’t appear to have an entrance.
Blevins had blown a tire in his beat up Chevy Blazer and was looking for the junkyard to buy a used tire.
“I was lost and the phone book map wasn’t the most accurate reference I had ever tried to use,” Blevins said.
About a week later, the band signed up for Bruce Jam and played in Bruce Hall next to the music school. They needed a name, so they settled on the name of that intersection, Mingo Fishtrap, thinking it would be temporary. It wasn’t.
“Years later, here we are,” Blevins said.
That was the mid 1990s, and they’ve been on the road ever since. Mingo hit the festival circuit, which carried them from Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, and hundreds of shows everywhere in between. They’ve played more than 100 shows this year.
After all this time, their popularity is beginning to grow like kudzu.
“It’s a long way to the starting line,” Blevins said.
Mingo Fishtrap is still an eight-piece band, with some of those first college players who started together.
They’ve been out two months and done a bucket-load of dates — all up and down the East Coast, through Canada and the Midwest, the West Coast and they are wrapping up this leg of the tour with four dates in Colorado. After that it’s back home to Austin, Texas, to finish their new album.
“It’s been a blessing with some luck along the way,” Blevins said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.