Yes, it's a tired cliché, but the guys of Guster really do march to the beat of a different drummer . . . and that drummer plays the bongos.
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In a markedly successful "college try," the band released its first two albums independently, the first while all three members were juniors at Boston's Tufts University. (The second, 1996's Goldfly, was rereleased by Sire two years later.)
Sticking with ultra-spare instrumentation Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner sharing acoustic guitar and vocal duties, Brian Rosenworcel behind the bongos for the past 10 years, Guster has built a small but faithful following. That fan base is undoubtedly swelling this summer, as the group is co-headlining a national tour with recent radio phenom John Mayer.
Mesa Amphitheatre, 251 North Center
Scheduled to perform with John Mayer and the John Butler Trio on Wednesday, August 21. Showtime is 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $26.50. Order through www.ticketmaster.com or 480-784-4444.
For its fourth album, set for a spring release on Reprise, Guster will diversify its turbo-folk-rock sound with new instruments banjo, bass and piano. It's an interesting risk for a band whose last offering, 1999's Lost and Gone Forever, drew considerable critical laud and more than a few comparisons to the Beach Boys' landmark Pet Sounds.
While the members of Guster are devoted to remaining accessible to fans Rosenworcel posts regular (and, sometimes, a little too personal) "road diary" entries on www.guster.com, which also showcases fans' Guster-inspired artworks it seems the band already has embraced one aspect of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. According to the same Web site, the Guster Backstage Contract Rider stipulates that "the dressing room must be furnished with plenty of borscht, noodle kugels, potato latkes, gefilte fish and homemade rugulah." Oy.