When Crooked Flower guitarist Dan Ingberman began writing otherwise strong songs that just didn't fit his group's direction, his band mates, Daniel Erik (bass) and Pat Shields (drums) suggested forming a side project. They called upon many of their Bay Area music friends, including powerhouse vocalist Dave Combs, and the General Maynyrd Band was born. The band's music offers up heavy doses of funk and soul with a healthy slice of Lynyrd Skynyrd-style southern rock (The band's name itself has a stylized spelling not unlike Skynyrd's).
One would not think this is a side project given the musical chemistry the band members have together. The group is tight and the playing top notch. The album opens with the funk soul of "Talkin' To My Fish." Combs gives a soulful vocal over this bluesy romp that finds the band locked into a tight groove, keyboardist Will Kyriazis shining in particular. Midway through, the band effortlessly shifts gears into a killer lead guitar and organ break that sounds like Deep Purple through a soul filter.
The bluesy "Sinner" follows and it showcases some killer wah-infused lead guitar from Ingberman and equally strong slide guitar from Tom Relling. Combs delivers a gritty vocal, really selling his performance while the band cranks out infectious, riff-oriented blues rock. The group slows the pace down a bit on "You're The Type," with Combs giving a powerful vocal. Combs' voice is strong enough to carry the ballads, but the band really shines on the up-tempo numbers the best.
"Can't Stop Rockin'" lives up to its name as driving rock track with some strong piano playing, blistering guitar, and Led Zeppelin-styles breaks. Combs' voice at times resembles that of Myles Kennedy or, looking back further, the great Steve Marriott. The band channels "Highway Star" on the drums and organ intro to "General Schmang," a straight-ahead rocker with Combs' pushing the limits of his vocal range. Killer stuff.
The album ends, ironically enough, with the track "No End," a mellow ballad that moves into Santana territory midway through. The musicians are strong enough here to make such a transition seamlessly and the lengthy instrumental break really showcases their prowess - a powerful ending to a strong album.
With killer musicianship, great songs and powerful vocals, The General Maynyrd Band definitely sounds like more than a side project. One would not be faulted for thinking this band had played together for years, in fact. Hopefully that will end up being the case.