The Ringers

An Evening with The Ringers


An Evening with The Ringers

Which musicians would make up your dream band? A common icebreaker question next to desert island movies, but for a large group of fans outside the Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte, NC on the night of February 20th, this question had an easy answer; The Ringers. This super-group is made up of Wayne Krantz, Michael Landau, and Jimmy Herring on guitar, as well as Etienne MBappe on bass, and Keith Carlock on drums.

The Ringers

The Ringers

This powerhouse quintet has something for everyone and is a guitar player’s dream. Herring’s roots in the jam band scene (Widespread Panic, The Dead, Allman Bros.), Krantz’s tenure beside jazz legends (Steely Dan, Michael Brecker, Billy Cobham) and Landau’s studio prestige (James Taylor, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis) creates a pleasurable contrast in tone and improvisation. Cross this with Carlock’s driving force (Sting, Diana Ross, Steely Dan), and MBappe’s smooth groove (John McLaughlin, Ray Charles), and it was difficult to decide which all-star to watch.

In between songs Krantz introduced the band and stated jokingly, “I’ve always wanted to play in a band with three amazing guitar players. I think I might have overdone it this time.” Yet, there was nothing excessive about this group. These established musicians proved not only were they astounding in their own right, but also that they possess an incredible ability to listen to one another. There was no struggle for center stage, rather an eagerness to collectively collaborate and play off one another’s motifs and ideas. Landau describes the band as, “Five guys that love playing and care deeply about the music.” In addition, the members have high regard and admiration for the other members of the group. Backstage before the show, the members were sitting together; trading stories, praising the others’ work, and passing around instruments.

Each musician’s humbleness, respect, and admiration towards the rest of the group was evident during solo sections.  Periodically, a musician would stop to attentively listen, often with eyebrows raised, and mouths opened. Herring and Landau often exchanged looks of disbelief while Krantz soloed. Krantz frequently used a ring modulator, creating a syncopated, robotic language that might have been communicating with numerous audience member’s phones, all hoping to capture a brief moment of jazzy-blues-fusion of the mind-blowing variety. After an astounding blues solo from Landu, Krantz and Herring were caught laughing and pointing to one another to decide which would follow such and incredible performance.

Even more mind-blowing than the overall performance is the fact that this show was the group’s second performance, and their fourth day playing together as a band. The group met the preceding Sunday to practice for the first time at the Georgia Theater in Athens, GA. In a rehearsal time of two days, The Ringers were able to create an impressive thirteen song set list made up of several songs composed specifically for the group.

One thing that sets The Ringers apart, besides their incredible musicianship, is the collective eagerness to play off the adrenaline from playing new material, and constantly being inspired during every song.

“I get inspired when I’m involved with something new,” Landau explains. “The ideas are flowing out in a good way. Its also good to have three guitar players live to cover different parts and tones.”

The Ringers’ shows generate an overwhelming feeling that the audience is watching something remarkably unique and special develop and grow before their eyes. Krantz credits the group’s feel and stage success to the apparent fun vibe each member brings to the music. He goes on to elaborate, “That’s what’s really going to make it work for everybody.” The only thing more frightening than what the group is able to create on stage is what they could potentially create together in a studio.

The Ringers continue their tour of the U.S. east coast with the final date at the Howard Theatre in Washington DC on Feb. 23rd. Be sure to catch The Ringers and support the music they are creating!

-Neal Shaw


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