Going to a Translucent Ham Sandwich Band show is akin to watching a miniature Burning Man unfold in your living room. The wildly improvisational outfit have filled stages with an uncountable lot of avant jazzers, acrobats, dancers, poets and freaks. The carnival of sounds and arty showmanship threads through psychedelic rock, jazz and any other genre that opens itself up to the moment. But drummer Evan Stone is always the guiding light for the prismatic jam band. With his cast of characters huddled around him, he remains zen, even as his arms flail and pound while sporting a dragon kimono get-up or some strange hat dug out of the closet. And after years of having the catchiest name in the OC music scene, the Translucent Ham Sandwich Band celebrate the long-awaited arrival of their official debut album at Diego's Downtown in Santa Ana on Thursday, Feb. 26.
The release party for Music From the Future will be one of the last events at the venue before it closes its doors because of a change in ownership. "It's going to be kind of a free-for-all," says Stone. "[The closing is] a little bittersweet, but there's such a good vibe there. We're even more motivated to make the album-release party a special one, and I have a feeling it's going to be a magical night. People have a hard time listening with their ears, so our live shows are meant to stimulate as many senses as possible."
The gig will feature a handful of the band's usual suspects, including seasoned vocalists, guitarists, horn players and a keyboardist. Stone says the night will also feature a DJ, rapper and poet, as well as video and laser components. The entertainers, lovingly referred to by the band as "fringe performers," are a tantalizing blend of belly dancers, jugglers, even a magician. Given the eclectic and diverse nature of the project, it's not surprising that more than a hundred participants have filtered in and out of it over the years. Stone anchors himself as the valiant leader that funnels all of the changing elements into a palpable and soul-stirring experience.
"Making people feel something is of the utmost importance to me," says Stone. "The fringed stuff on the side that causes ADD, that's the stuff I want people to remember as the higher packaging, but really it's designed to distract you. . . . Sure, there's a lot of shit going on around us, but when people are driving home, we hope they'll remember that the band was pretty good, too."
Stone's liberated attitude toward music was captured on Music From the Future, which was mostly recorded in Los Angeles with David Holman. Some touches were added in Stone's home studio, and then he meticulously whittled down the six hours of music to a 44-minute compilation. The album was a labor of love for the drummer.
While his cast of musicians and performers vary, the group maintains a sound and essence that's all their own. "My No. 1 job as a drummer is to get you to move your ass, and if you're not feeling anything, I'm not doing my job," Stone says. "I want people to walk away feeling something in their molecules."
The Translucent Ham Sandwich Band perform at Diego's Downtown, 224 E. Third St., Santa Ana, (714) 558-8257; www.diegosdowntown.com. Thurs., Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m. $20 (includes a free copy of the vinyl album). All ages. For more information on the band, visit target="_blank">www.translucenthamsandwichband.com.