After two fantastic hometown New Year’s shows, Donavon Frankenreiter and his band put on a unique and intimate show in Venice on January 2nd at The Venice West. I had the chance to chat briefly with Donavon, who expressed what a special and emotional night this was for them: this was to be drummer Jara Harris’ last show for a bit, as he is set to begin treatment for stage four cancer.
Donavon and his three-piece band — consisting of funky bass player Matt Grundy and uber-talented drummer Jara Harris — began playing to a small group of diehard fans, kicking off the evening with “On My Mind” and showcasing just how beautifully the three can harmonize together. During “Move By Yourself”, Harris showed off his tight drum skills, again proving just how in sync the three are musically. Both Grundy and Harris provided beautiful backup vocals, as well. The band continued with fan favorite, “Your Heart”.
Fans began dancing as Grundy showcased his insane harmonica skills on “Our Love”.
At the same time, images of daisies and pinwheels played on the brick wall behind them. Not often do you find musicians who can harmonize so exquisitely as they did on “Could Be One of Those Days”… As one fan shouted out, “Play something I can dance to!”, Frankenreiter announced they’d be playing the perfect song for her — a new one called “Move Your Feet”. The song got everyone dancing, with Grundy’s funky bass, Frankenreiter’s shredding guitar skills and Harris beating away on the drums.
The band continued with more fan favorites, like “You” and “The Way It Is”. Just when you thought you’d heard it all, Grundy killed it on harmonica yet again, with Harris smashing it with a smile from ear to ear on “Alright”. The close-knit band continued to entertain the crowd with more favorites like “Call Me Papa”, “Free” and “That’s Too Bad”. The crowd sang along to “Swing on Down”, as Frankenreiter tried to end the night. But, his devoted collection of fans wouldn’t have it.
“One more?” Frankenreiter asked Grundy and Harris as he looked at the crowd. Fans shouted their approval in return and “Heading Home” came next, with an insane jam session that left Frankenreiter with a sliced thumb and a red-sprayed guitar body. But, that wasn’t it! They launched into “It Don’t Matter”, with the band giving their all! When it was over, the band members emotionally embraced and fans gave Harris their good wishes on his journey to beat cancer. Please keep Jara Harris in your thoughts; the world needs a drummer and human like him in it! Don’t miss Donavon later this month!
Thumbnail photo by Adam Walker