Bellying up to the Blind Pig's bar, David Bryan squints against the glare of soft saloon lighting bouncing off the array of stemware hanging, inverted, above his head. Searching by sight and touch, he runs his hands over the highballs, martini glasses and tall tumblers, finally pausing at a handled cup. Pouring strong, black coffee over a generous layer of nondairy creamer, he grins sheepishly.
"Ragweed," he says softly. "It takes a lot out of you."
Not very rock 'n' roll.
A few minutes later, a very different David Bryan takes the stage. Striding across the stage, his feet, clad in his trademark green footwear, seem to barely brush the carpet. He feathers the tone and volume knobs on his guitar, pulls off a few experimental licks, looks right and then left at his bandmates and then launches into a fiery amalgamation of Chicago blues, Southern rock boogie and Memphis soul.
David Bryan has left the building, Shameless Dave is in the house.
Shameless Dave and the Miracle Whips, who enjoy a regular gig at the Blind Pig, recently was named the best house band by readers of Augusta Magazine and will play a special Best of Augusta After Bash Benefit on Thursday at the Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.
Mr. Bryant admitted to a certain degree of dichotomy between his onstage persona and his far-lower-key self. He said only the power of music played passionately, and his emerald slippers, are able to channel his Shameless self.
"There is always that person inside that wants to get up and do that," he explained. "And I do have the green shoes. The thing is, I get genuinely excited about being able to get up and play, and I think people see that."
Although it bears the crying guitar and call-and-response structure indicative of the blues, Mr. Bryant balks a bit at labeling the Miracle Whips a basic blues band. Instead, their sound balances somewhere between rock and the hard place that is electric blues.
"It's really a sound that's based on the way we play and play together," he said. "I started, as a teenager, just playing the blues, learning off records. Then I moved on into other areas - rock, Southern rock and even country. By the time I got to this point in my life, I've played a little of everything and bring all that to the mix."
That experience, shared with members of his band, allows the Miracle Whip sound to warp and twist with the addition of new textures and elements of improvisation. Mr. Bryant said those are important Miracle Whip ingredients.
"It's really easy for something like the blues to get real boring real fast," he said. "You can fall into the trap of playing the same shuffle beat all night long. You need to be able to keep things interesting."
Like most musicians, Mr. Bryant's bread and butter comes from a day job, and he views a rock-star future with some skepticism. Still, the ability to pick up a guitar and make it sing remains his passion.
"People wake up in the morning and they are what they are," he said. "I've done all kinds of day jobs, mostly sales, but when I wake up in the morning, I am a musician. That's the first thing on my mind and something I can't ever get away from."
THE SHOW: The Best of Augusta After Bash, featuring Shameless Dave and the Miracle Whips, The Rhees Reeves Band, Tony Williams and the Blues Express, E and L Productions, the H.B.O.Y.S., Joseph Patchen and the Big Diamond Express, Playback, Patrick Blanchard and TuTu D'vyne.
THE DATE: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, doors open at 7:30 p.m.
THE VENUE: The Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.
THE COST: $5
THE EVENT: The Best of Augusta Bash
THE DATE: 7-10 p.m. Thursday
THE VENUE: Fort Discovery Science Center, Riverwalk Augusta at Seventh Street. $10 in advance, $15 at the door
THE COST: $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 821-0200
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or email@example.com