Showcase Magazine - Cover Story
Thursday, May 29, 2003 E-mail This Article 
THE BAND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY (PUB) - Above, The Amorphous Band takes a break from one of its appearances at The Barley Pub in Dover. (John Nash/Democrat photo)

Groovers & Shakers: Welcome to the ever-changing world of The Amorphous Band

Showcase Correspondent

Keith Foley and Cindy Kaza sit side by side on a couch located in the underbelly of The Barley Pub, talking about the experience of playing music in The Amorphous Band.

The word "fun" comes up in the conversation and Foley, ever the personable musician, breaks into an a capella version of a song one wouldn’t expect to hear from a man his age, with his musical ability and resume.

"‘F’ is for friends who do stuff together, ‘U’ is for you and me, ‘N’ is for anywhere and anytime at all, down here in the deep blue sea."

Foley stops, pauses, looks comically incredulous as if shocked that his audience didn’t recognize the "SpongeBob Squarepants" song. Seconds later, both Foley and Kaza are giggling, leaning into and affectionately pushing on each other as if they are two kids joshing each other.

Welcome to the world of The Amorphous Band, where fun is had all over - from those onstage, enjoying the chance to make music among great friends and good people, all the way out to the dance floor, where followers of the band will tell you, going to to their shows is fun. Plain and simple.

"It’s a lot of fun, something I’ve enjoyed a lot," Foley said, finally turning serious and talking about The Amorphous Band and his year-plus role in it as a bass player. "You get a chance to be creative and play different things in different styles."

Such is a key part of The Amorphous Band’s success. And its name.

Amorphous: Lacking definite form; shapeless; of no particular type, anomalous.

Every show is different as is the band and its players. One week it might be a mixture of originals and covers, with long, intense jamming sessions popping up at a moment’s notice; the next week might be a reggae-esque or blues sound with one of the many guests who sit in the band from time to time.

It is the band founder Chris O’Neill always wanted.

"The name comes from the vision I had of what the band has become," said O'Neill, a 33-year-old Newmarket resident who grew up in Hollis. "I sort of knew it would someday. To be amorphous means it’s something that can take a different shape. It doesn’t follow the standard procedure of cell structure. I took it more loosely to mean that different players would bring a different feel to the music. It'll take many shapes, yet still remains."

For the most part, The Amorphous Band has taken three shapes. It is the ever-morphing house band that rocks The Barley Pub in downtown Dover every Wednesday. It is the band that gets out and tours on the weekends, playing local spots such as the recently closed Stone Church and The Press Room while trekking to either Gloucester, Mass., or Nashua for other shows. And it is the band currently putting together a very special CD that not only will include the sounds of The Amorphous Band, but also a multimedia section not often seen on locally produced albums.

As of now, The Amorphous Band might be best known for its gigs at The Barley Pub. Even the band wasn’t sure what to expect when it started its weekly shows right before Christmas 2001.

"We thought it would die out and it didn’t," O’Neill said. "We survived the $2 cover at the door. We’ve been playing there and it’s packed every night. There is a regular crowd at The Barley Pub, but I would say they want to hear something new each week. We try to experiment with a lot of new music onstage. There’s a lot of improv and a lot of free form. But we have a lot of composition, too. That’s the strong point of The Barley Pub shows: Being able to do whatever we want to do on some nights. Between all the people, we can pretty much come up with what the crowd wants to hear."

The band has had featured guests, including the likes of Coby Carlucci, who has played with his band Tractor Trailer, and Peter Prince, who plays with Moon Boot Lover.

But at the core of The Amorphous Band are the musicians who create the music.

Most of the vocals come courtesy of Kaza, the Grafton County-raised songstress who recently was featured on the Seacoast Songwriters compilation album; O’Neill, the lead guitarist who was featured on a Seacoast Guitar Players compilation album; bass player Foley; drummer Mike Walsh; and keyboardist Dan Shure.

Paul Donahue, who has drummed for Brick House, fills in for Walsh when he can’t make a show and Jim Lapierre, a childhood friend of O’Neill’s, supplies vocals for the band when he plays with them.

"All the musicians are pretty dedicated to playing music," O’Neill said. All also love music and have their own side work going on, as well.

O’Neill said such side projects keep everybody fresh and generating new ideas.

The newest idea The Amorphous Band will be adding to the local music scene will be the multimedia aspect for its album, which is expected to come out sometime in the fall.

In addition to the usually 12 or so musical tracks, O'Neill sees this opportunity as so much more.

"We’ve got recording projects going on a couple of different fronts," O’Neill explained. "We’ve recorded a lot of shows. We’ve got a home studio recording that will turn into our CD out in the fall. The video aspect of it we’re still putting together. There will be some interviews with the band members, formatting it in different ways. Maybe photo collages."

"I think it’s going to be great," Foley adds. "It’s something that nobody else is doing."

At the very least, such a project is going to add just that much more fun into an already good time - for the band members, for the fans, for anybody willing to give the ever-changing Amorphous Band a chance to show them a good time.

The Amorphous Band plays every Wednesday night at The Barley Pub in Dover. For more information on the band and its gigs, visit