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Grease Factor: A musical pot of funky, finger-lickin’ jams, by Lorne Chambers

The greater Allman Brothers family has always spawned spin-offs and side projects. Some have grown as big as Gov’t Mule, while others have been a one-tour experiment, like Matt Abts and Johnny Neel’s X2 (experimental duo), which passed through Charleston last year.

Neel, who has played keys for the Allmans in the past, is particularly restless. He’s participated in a variety of these spin-offs/side projects, including Blue Floyd, the aforementioned X2, Gregg Allman Band, Dickie Betts Band, and his own band Johnny Neel and The Last Word. Now he’s at it again with The Grease Factor — a new musical collaboration with Shane Theriot of the Neville Brothers, Derek Jones who tours with Nickel Creek, Jeff Sipe of Leftover Salmon and Aquarium Rescue Unit, and Count M’Butu of Col. Bruce Hampton and Aquarium Rescue Unit.
So how did this musical concoction come together? “Well, it started out with one thing and then it went in another direction,” says Neel in his gravelly blues voice. “But I think musically it’s going to be very impressive.” The name of the band came from the title of a solo album that Theriot recently recorded. During that recording session someone wanted to make a track a little funkier and suggested they turn up the “grease factor.” The album title was born and soon a whole band was too.

Theriot and Neel played together on each other’s various solo efforts in the past and decided to put something together and invite some other musical friends. But when describing the band’s sound, even Neel can only speculate what will happen when they hit the stage. That’s because they haven’t really rehearsed and don’t really plan on rehearsing until they debut this Wednesday night at the Handlebar in Greenville.

“What this will be, will be the roots of the band. This will be our first outing but this will entail developing our sound and we’ll go from there,” explains Neel. Then on Thursday, Jan. 28, they play Cumberland’s for their second-ever performance. “We really will make up a song right there on the spot,” he admits. “It’s really spontaneous. We might learn only two or three songs.” Of course when you have the combined individual musicianship like that of Grease Factor, spontaneity and improvisation are part of the excitement of the music, which Neel envisions ranging from funk to spacey jams to African rhythms. “We’ll begin with three chords and see what flows, that’s really what jam is,” he explains. “The percussion element will be very nice so we won’t have to play all the time and just let the rhythm carry the people to a place.”

As of right now, Grease Factor only have four dates scheduled. After South Carolina, they’ll play two shows in Georgia. But according to Neel, they plan to make live recordings at each show and have them available the following nights. So even though every night is a new experiment, it’s also the making of a live album, which will last a long time, even if Grease Factor don’t.

Whether or not Grease Factor will book more dates or eventually have the legs to grow into a Mule-like entity remains to be seen. But Neel, who also plans to play more with his own band in future months, says he’d like to see Grease Factor evolve into a fairly regular thing, where other members who aren’t touring with their respective full-time bands, can get together and jam. But spin-off bands are often like spin-off television shows, and for every Frasier there are a dozen Joanie Loves Chachi. So make sure to catch this experimental group of able musicians this go-round, because you never know if they’ll have enough grease to keep it running smooth.

Grease Factor:Thurs. Jan. 29, Cumberland’s, 26 Cumberland St. 577-9469


A Greasy Super-Group: Grease Factor: Shane Theriot, Johnny Neel, Jeff Sipe, Count M'Butu, Derek Jones
Wednesday, January 28, 2004. by Mark R. Pantsari

Every so often in the musical universe, the planets align just so and a super group emerges. For the five working musicians of the Grease Factor even to unite to form the band requires an act of divine intervention or meticulous planning - or maybe both.

   The band's creation and resulting moniker came from session work for the solo effort by guitarist Shane Theriot titled ''The Grease Factor.''

   ''It's sort of a studio jargon thing,'' Theriot says. ''I heard a producer one time tell a studio musician to 'change the groove ... and bring up the grease factor a little bit.' And I thought it would be a cool name for a band.''

   Aside from the cool band name, the Grease Factor is also chockfull of talent.

   Theriot's been serving as a lead guitarist for the Neville Brothers for more than five years. Drummer Jeff Sipe's machine-like chops have set the beat behind Project Z, Leftover Salmon, Aquarium Rescue Unit and Susan Tedeschi. Bassist Derek Jones' supple grooves have supported Nickel Creek and David Grisman. Explosive percussionist Count M'Butu rounds out the rhythm section; his talents have been displayed with the ARU, Parliament Funkadelic and sit-ins with Widespread Panic and Phish. Keyboardist Johnny Neel rounds out the quintet, and his blues-infected playing has been in the Allman Brothers Band, Blue Floyd and Willie Nelson's band.

Grease Factor, featuring Johnny Neel, Jeff Sipe, Shane Theriot and Count M'Butu, Groovestain, Soldiers of Jah Army
When: Doors open at 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31
Where: Georgia Theatre, 215 N. Lumpkin St.
Cost: $5
Call: (706) 549-9918

''We're hoping it flies,'' Theriot says. ''It's very exciting ... because, as sidemen, we don't get to express ourselves - we're always sort of in the back. So this will be fun and everyone can let loose.''

   The Grease Factor has been rehearsing recently to build something resembling a repertoire for the band's ''maiden-voyage'' five-date tour that passes through the Georgia Theatre on Saturday.

   What the Grease Factor lacks in conventional, pre-written songs it surely makes up for in creativity and improvisational skill.

   ''Everybody brings spontaneity into the mix,'' Theriot says. ''We'll have a mix of form and sketches of tunes and then we'll do some free-form stuff and then we'll just jam. We have tunes and things but we want to ride the fence of completely improvised and semi-rehearsed. It's all over the place right now and we hope to leave it that way.''
   
Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Thursday, January 29


A 'Greasy' super-group Story last updated at 8:03 a.m. Thursday, January 29, 2004
MUSIC CONCERTS by Mark R. Pantsari (Special to The Post and Courier )

For the five working musicians of the Grease Factor to even unite to form a band requires an act of divine intervention or meticulous planning or maybe both.
The Grease Factor is a brand-spanking new super-group consisting of five of the Southeast's most unique musicians.

While each member has several "day" jobs going on at the moment, the Grease Factor is hoping to become much more than a one-off, all-star band.

The band's creation and resulting moniker came from session work for the solo effort by guitarist Shane Theriot titled "The Grease Factor."

"It's sort of a studio jargon thing," Theriot said in a recent interview. "I heard a producer one time tell a studio musician to 'change the groove around and bring up the grease factor a little bit' to make the music funkier. I thought it would be a cool name for a band and everybody liked it, so we're the Grease Factor."

Along with a deserving name for the band, the Grease Factor is loaded to the brim with talent and broad musical vision. New Orleans-inspired funk, blues, jazz and blistering rock are just a few of the genres the band's respective members have played.

Theriot's been serving as a lead guitarist for one of New Orleans favorite bands, the Neville Brothers, for more than five years. Drummer Jeff Sipe's machine-like chops have set the beat behind Project Z, Leftover Salmon, Aquarium Rescue Unit and Susan Tedeschi. Bassist Derek Jones' supple grooves have supported Nickel Creek and David Grisman. Explosive percussionist Count M'Butu rounds out the rhythm section. His talents have been displayed with the ARU, Parliament Funkadelic and in sit-ins with Widespread Panic and Phish. Keyboardist Johnny Neel rounds out the quintet, and his blues-infected playing has been featured in the Allman Brothers Band, Blue Floyd, and Willie Nelson's band.

While members of the Grease Factor have collaborated with one another in different settings, this marks the first time they have performed together as a quintet.

The new band also allows each member to cast aside the role of "sideman" and play their own material.

"We're hoping it flies," Theriot said. "We've all worked with each other in different formats from time to time, but never as a unit. We thought it would be fun and thought the chemistry would be there to take it on the road and play some music."

"It's also very exciting to do this because, as sidemen, we don't get to express ourselves -- we're always sort of in the back. So this will be fun and everyone can let loose. It won't be a chops band though, there will be some of those elements, but we just want to play good music that everybody can get off on."

The Grease Factor has been rehearsing recently to build something resembling a repertoire for the bands "maiden-voyage" five-date tour that passes through Cumberland's tonight. What the Grease Factor lacks in conventional, pre-written songs, it surely makes up for in creativity and improvisational skill.

"Everybody brings spontaneity into the mix," Theriot said. "We'll have a mix of form and sketches of tunes, and then we'll do some free form stuff, and then we'll just jam. We have tunes and things, but we want to ride the fence of completely improvised and semi-rehearsed. It's all over the place right now and we hope to leave it that way."

Theriot went so far as to speculate the future of the Grease Factor. While each member of the band has future commitments with other groups down the road, Theriot said he and his fellow musicians are planning to ride it out and see how far the Grease Factor can go.

"This is the maiden voyage," Theriot said, "but we're just trying to build a machine. We have plans for more dates and everybody's kind of putting things on hold just to do this project to see what happens.

Unless we kill each other after the first couple of gigs, we all want to make it a band project as opposed to a super group. We want to create material together and build something."

The Grease Factor will take the stage at Cumberland's tonight around 10 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Keep up with the Grease Factor at www.shanetheriot.com.
Creative Loafing in Atlanta: The Grease Factor, by Hal Horowitz (1/30/2004)

Helmed by Neville Brothers' guitarist Shane Theriot, this album-less collective boasts some extraordinary musicians. Established luminaries such as drummer Jeff Sipe and percussionist Count M'Butu join former-Allman Brothers keyboardist Johnny Neel and Nickel Creek bass player Derek Jones to produce Southern-fried funk, slimy boogie and grimy swamp rock as dirty as its name.


'Grease' slides into town, by Walt Torbert
Published , January 30, 2004, 06:00:01 AM EDT

THE GREASE FACTOR
With: Groove Stain, Soldiers of Jah Army
When: Saturday at 9 p.m.
Where: Georgia Theatre
Admission: $5 in advance

The Grease Factor takes the stage for only its fifth show ever this Saturday at the Georgia Theatre. Don't be mistaken though, this is one of the most experienced groups to pass through Athens in a while.

Each member has made a name for himself playing with noteworthy bands and acts over the past few decades.

At the root of the time-tested lineup is Shane Theriot, the New Orleans guitarist who currently plays with The Neville Brothers. After releasing his latest solo album, "The Grease Factor," which received national acclaim for its aggressive, homegrown cajun/funk arrangements, Theriot talked a few of his friends and fellow musicians into joining him on the road.

They include drummer Jeff Sipe, who early in his career played in the band Aquarium Rescue Unit (ARU), has since done stints with Leftover Salmon and Susan Tedeschi. He has also played in projects like Jazz is Dead and Project Z, both again with Herring.

The percussionist for Grease Factor, Count M'Butu, also played in ARU. Since, he's participated in the Zambiland Orchestra, a large group of musicians which includes Sipe, and taken the stage as a guest of Widespread Panic, Blues Traveler, The Allman Brothers and Phish.

The resume for keyboardist Johnny Neel is the longest of the group. In the early 1990s, he was nominated for a Grammy while playing for The Allman Brothers. He's also been the keyboardist for Blue Floyd and Government Mule during his career, as well as his own band, Johnny Neel and the Last Word.

Bassist Derek Jones is an accomplished Nashville recording artist and composer. He's toured with bluegrass/folk band Nickel Creek, and played with The Flecktones, among others.

The members of The Grease Factor, in one combination or another, have shared countless stages and studios over the years.

"We've all worked together before," Theriot said, "But we've never come together collectively." He insists that the band will continue playing together following this short, five-show tour. "All of us have done side gigs to the point that, even though the gigs are great, only so much personality can come out in the music," Theriot said. "Now there is a lot of personality."


Thursday, June 3, 2004
Grease Factor depends on unpredictability, By C.E. Hanifin (http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/06/03/tem_ae03grease.html)
The Cincinnati Enquirer

When it comes to his new band, Shane Theriot believes the analyzed song isn't worth playing. Or at least it doesn't sound as good.

Following recording sessions last year for his solo release, The Grease Factor, Theriot loaned the album's name to a sideman supergroup devoted to spontaneity. The crew of musicians, which played its first gig together in January, performs tonight at Jack Quinn's in Covington.
In addition to Theriot, a New Orleans-based former guitarist for the Neville Brothers, the lineup of Grease Factor includes percussionist Count M'Butu (Parliament/Funkadelic), bassist Derek Jones (Nickel Creek), keyboardist Johnny Neel (Willie Nelson) and drummer Jeff Sipe (Leftover Salmon).
Although the five musicians' years of experience and gamut of influences come together to create an eclectic sound, Theriot says none of them cares to figure out how.
"We don't think about it too much," he says. "We just let it happen."
"Funk rock with a New Orleans tinge" - that's how Theriot describes Grease Factor's music.
"At times it sounds like a heavy version of Little Feat. At other times, we'll do blues shuffles ... (or we) might take it out to a more fusiony feel," he says.
True to the unpredictable nature of the group, no two shows are the same, Theriot says. The band members take turns leading the set in different directions.
Neel, for example, might push the group deep into blues territory, then "one of us will take the reins and go somewhere else with it," Theriot says. "That's what makes the band interesting."
Although the members of Grease Factor are no strangers to the recording studio, Theriot says he doesn't have any plans right now for the group to cut an album. Instead, the band will issue a live release of tracks culled from shows on its current tour.
"I'm almost afraid to take the band into the studio - it would dilute what we do live," he says.
Besides, Theriot says, painstaking studio work would run counter to the anything-goes spirit of the band.
"We decided that it's got to be fun, or it's not worth doing it."

E-mail chanifin@enquirer.com If you go:
What: Grease Factor
When: 9:30 tonight
Where: Jack Quinn's, 112 E. Fourth St.,
Covington (859) 491-6699
Tickets: $12; available online at: www.jackquinn.com


The Grease Factor (http://citybeat.com/current/soundadvice.shtml)
Thursday · Jack Quinn's

No, the Grease Factor is not a new piggybacked Food Network/NBC reality series where chefs have to eat things dredged up from the bottom of the fryer. It's the name of guitarist Shane Theriot's brand new N'awlins Funk/Soul band. If Theriot's name sounds vaguely familiar to fans of the genre, it might well be because he's been six-stringing for the Neville Brothers for the past eight years and getting great notices because of it. But that changed with the release of his sophomore solo album last year, entitled, appropriately enough, The Grease Factor, a project which forced him to do more touring on his own and ultimately led him to step down from his position with the Nevilles this past February in order to concentrate on his own band and his increasing array of production and session gigs (one of which ironically is with the Aaron Neville Quintet). Since deciding to form a band and christening it after the title of his well-received 2003 album, Theriot has employed a rotating cast of talent in the Grease Factor, including Meters/Vida Blue drummer Russell Batiste. Earlier this year, the Grease Factor finally solidified (sorry, couldn't resist) their lineup with Aquarium Rescue Unit drummer Jeff Sipe and bassist Derek Jones, Allman Brothers keyboardist Johnny Neel and renowned percussionist Count M'Butu (who has gigged with the likes of ARU, Phish, Blues Traveler and Parliament/Funkadelic) officially taking the stage with Theriot. In fact, the band recorded a series of shows back in January and the resultant tapes are now in the editing process to be compiled into a live album for imminent release. The Neville Brothers' loss is the Jam community's gain; the Grease Factor is ready to slide into town and cook up something funky for the discriminating sonic palate. (Brian Baker)



Grease Factor
(http://www.metropulse.com/dir_suncity/dir_calendar/cal_spots.html)

When taken seriously, “supergroups” have the potential to coagulate musically, but they traditionally implode—typically on stage—from competing egos. However, when comprised of like-minded supporting players with diverse backgrounds rather than a pack of alpha dogs, the promise quotient multiplies exponentially. Grease Factor is comprised of five instrumentalists whose experience covers a range of genres, featuring guitarist Shane Theriot (Neville Brothers), keyboardist Johnny Neel (Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson), drummer Jeff Sipe (Leftover Salmon, Susan Tedeschi), bassist Derek Jones (Nickel Creek, David Grisman), and legendary percussionist Count M’Butu (Parliament Funkadelic). Roots rock, blues, southern Delta boogie, and New Orleans swamp funk swirl into a groove-heavy blend with a balance of tight improvisation and nimble composition. (C.C.)
Grease Factor • Tuesday, June 8, 10 p.m. • Barley’s • $7.

©Copyright The Daily Beacon (http://dailybeacon.utk.edu/article.php/15179 )
Arleah Shellman, Staff Writer
Volume 96 Number 3
Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Grease Factor is coming to Barley's Taproom Tuesday, June 8, filling the room with its unique sound and sophisticated music. Roots stemming from rock, blues and "New Orleans swamp funk" compose the southern band's phenomenal sound, which is comprised of five experienced musicians. Guitarist Shane Theriot, who has performed with the Neville Brothers, led the formation of the five musicians into Grease Factor, and branded its name one day during a recording session for his own album. The other members of Grease Factor include keyboardist Johnny Neel, drummer Jeff Sipe, bass guitarist Derek Jones and percussionist Count M'Butu. Neel has performed with the Allman Brothers and Willie Nelson. Sipe, a veteran musician for Leftover Salmon and Aquarium Rescue Unit, has taken on accompaniment with Grease Factor. Jones played with Nickel Creek and the Anger- Marshall Band, while percussionist Count M'Butu has performed with Aquarium Rescue Unit and Parliament-Funkadelic. One of the most unique aspects of the expertise behind Grease Factor is that they perform every show as an impromptu act, sometimes even writing songs on stage and in the moment as they feel the energy of the crowd.
In fact, Grease Factor is not using a pre-recorded album to promote their tour. The band is taking the tour one stop at a time, and the songs are decided in the moment. "Their focus is mostly live concerts because most their songs are made right on the spot. The band has not recorded in a studio yet because they wanted the songs to be created right there as people listen. The bottom line for Grease Factor is improvisation. The band played for two hours (at a previous show) and still had an encore - the guys are so skilled and it makes for high energy during a show," Dave Weissman, tour publicist, said.
Grease Factor was formed at the end of January 2004 and followed with a short six show tour. The band has started playing again in May and will continue tour into July. Those who come to watch Grease Factor at Barley's will not only get a chance to hear some of Southern rock's legendary musicians, but they will also witness the creation of songs in front of them from the pure energy that forms when experience and talent fuse together on stage. Grease Factor will be performing at Barley's, located at 200 Jackson Ave., Tuesday at 10 p.m. The performance is for adults ages 21 and over, and the cover is $7.


Katie Lieberman
http://www.divingin2memphis.com/
http://www.divingin2memphis.com/node/view/54


What happens when you decide to start a band, can’t rehearse due to a good ole’ North Carolina ice storm and then play together for the first time when the lights go down and the show begins? Well for one, you get the almighty Grease Factor, an aggressive, deep fried blend of delicious, jazz infused Cajun rock with a backbone of soul. Made up of guitarist Shane Theriot (Neville Brothers), keyboardist Johnny Neel (Allman Brothers), bassist Derek Jones (David Grisman), percussionist Count M’Butu(Aquarium Rescue Unit), and drummer Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit), Grease Factor is loaded with undeniable talent and strong musical vision.

Jeff Sipe is a drummer of many wonders. Having been born in Germany, when he was a freshman in high school Jeff’s family moved back to the south. It was at this time Jeff found the magic that is Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and the entire jazz dynasty. “I realized that just about all roads in American music lead back to New Orleans and the great music that came out of the turn of the 19 th century. It spawned this beautiful American jazz music that Miles really understood. For me all roads lead to Miles (laughs), Bach too is probably my favorite, I wish those two could have met.” I wondered if any album in particular had ignited this passion, this instant musical revolution? “Bitches Brew was an awakening. [His] sense of timing, phrasing, and his pacing throughout the song…everyone that he played with was going for it.”

And why not go for it, especially when you can put yourself in the middle of an experienced forceful musical unit. “I had never really had this level of (rythming) before with five guys”, Sipe says of his Grease Factor band mates. Unable to rehearse before their first show at Stella Blues in Ashville last January, they showed up at the venue, hoping to pull something off. While each had worked with the other on separate occasions, whether in the studio or on the road, these five men had never played as a collective component before. No one knew what sound was going to come from that stage, but I doubt anyone expected nothing short of awesome. “We were really amazed, at least I was” Sipe continues, “We actually pulled off some spontaneous compositions with intro’s and great hooks and tight endings. Everything seemed liked it was actually rehearsed.” It went so well; the response was so moving that what was originally a five-night run transformed itself into something a bit more permanent.

Starting a new band though means starting from the beginning. “We are still trying to introduce ourselves to the public. Like any starting band you really have to build it from the bottom up,” Sipe noted. Each man has played to sold out venues, where thousands upon thousands have come to feel the sensation of their music. So how does it feel once again to be back in a club atmosphere, with considerably less people? Sipe “enjoys smaller rooms, maybe up to 500 hundred people or so. Once you get 1,000 people in the room or more, it just feels a lot less intimate, the music automatically somehow becomes a little diluted, just to appeal to more people. It’s a different ballgame if you’re playing with big production in a big room. It’s really exciting, with a different kind of adrenaline, a different kind of excitement. Smaller groups, smaller rooms allow for magic and spontaneity.”

Magic and spontaneity seem to be the secret weapon for this group and these five men know how to use that weapon to be impulsive and continuously feed off the musical grace that each possess. “Every night, there’s a section of the night that writes itself and it’s pretty amazing to me how that happens,” Sipe stated.
They are able to accomplish this task by bringing their personal roots into the mix. How does it all fuse together? Well, “Johnny Neel, is really very soulful, influenced by the southern seed. He breaks away from the southern rock mold though and is able to go into the jazz world, but not too heavily. It all comes from a very soulful place. And Shane Theriot has got this New Orleans rhythm and his soloing is just magical and fantastic. The Count, who studied African and Latin percussion adds the spice and Derek Jones, who has played with all types of genres, well there’s just no idiom that can describe his sound.”

While the name of the band comes from a recent Shane Theriot album, most songs are in nightly development and continue to write themselves. I asked Jeff if there were any songs he was excited to see mature and he answered with two. First, “ I have a soft spot for ballads and beautiful melodies, I really want to be Tony Bennett (laughs, but truly serious). There’s nothing more beautiful than a pretty melody, it transcends everything else, so Everyday, that’s really a joy to play.” And the second, “A really sad Latin Groove the Count, myself and Derek are getting into, rhythm section wise. It’s like soaring like an eagle with those guys.”

Well if that isn’t what you want out of the musicians you play with I don’t know what is. I also don’t think there is anything more you can ask from the music that you go and see. It is this type of connection that makes a band great that makes a band’s growth worth watching; there is nothing more enticing. Not that you won’t be impressed already, each member of Grease Factor has the making of a legend in his own right. I must say that Jeff Sipe is one of the most articulate men I have spoken with and his love for music is obvious in every statement made, in every story told and in every drumbeat played. I highly recommend checking out Grease Factor when they come your way and us Memphians, well lucky for us we don’t have to wait long, Saturday July 17th at HI-TONE is when we finally get to see this all with our own eyes. So enjoy and get dirty.

DivingIn2Memphis would like to thank Dave Weissman from Musical Earth and Ben Lee from Golden Squid Entertainment

 
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