The four members of Smooth Money Gesture definitely understand the value of the journey over the destination. They are, after all, a jam band, blending Dead-icated folk jams, spacey prog excursions and jazzy dub/worldbeat rhythms. The grooves — like the road — extend toward the horizon line, fueled by the restless creativity of the Diminico brothers Doug and Dan.
The Nederland group, which made its recording debut with last year's The Grand Scubian: Evolution, moved from Alaska to Colorado back in 2005 after growing tired of touring the towns and cities along the Alaska coastline. "It's like a third of the U.S.," says bassist/vocalist Doug Diminico. "You drive a lot to get to different places, but you're always in the same state."
Ultimately, the sense of isolation lost its charm. "We had a lot of fun playing up there, but we wanted to do it more throughout the entire country, which is not possible from there."
Doug remembered passing through Nederland when he was 19 and liking it. The town had the advantage of being "pretty rural but with quick access to Denver and Boulder," as well as highways to the coasts. Still, it was something of a shot in the dark. "We didn't know a soul," he recalls.
After going through a number of drummers and percussionists, the brothers hooked up with Nederland native Cody Wales, whose family lineage (his father drummed in Leftover Salmon) and his own résumé (he studied under Galactic's Stanton Moore and jazz session whiz Christian Teele) made him the perfect addition. Wales brought in keyboardist/vocalist Pete Goldberg, and the lineup was complete.
The group recorded Grand Scubian at Sugarloaf's Altitude Recording Studio with producer Chris Smith, but is now experimenting with a more DIY approach. "I saw a lot of the same procedures being done in the studio that I would've done myself at home," says Doug. "It opened my eyes."
Currently, Smooth Money Gesture is recording in brother Dan's basement, where through slow accumulation they've built up a studio setup that gives them the luxury of working at their own pace.
"We have a lot of time to send more stuff through, if we want to go off on a musical tangent," Doug says. "I don't have a $10,000 microphone, but I don't have a $10 microphone either. Somewhere in-between."
They also converted an airport shuttle bus into a touring vehicle, adding bunks and a stove, which allows them to conserve funds on tour. And last year they further updated it, so it could run on vegetable grease.
"When the temperature is right for us to be collecting used waste grease, we can travel pretty much for free," he says. "Although we've had some issues with fuel pumps and stuff this year that has left us dead in the water on the side of the road several times. So we're going to be more cautious in the future."
Currently, the plan is to release new music in the spring — hopefully a full album — and then it's off to the summer festival circuit that's the life-blood of any good jam band.
"We just keep doing what we do," says Doug. "We make friends along the way, and meet people willing to help us go a little further each time."