One of the most singular experiences I’ve had watching live music in the past year was seeing Bay Area band Tino Drima play play at Turn! Turn! Turn! in November. They were the middle act between two Portland bands (Point Juncture, WA and Sama Dams). The latter are labelmates with Tino Drima, who released their latest record Her Kind of Man on Friendship Fever, an indie label run out of Sacramento, CA.
When they began playing, I knew nothing about them. For the next half hour, I stood transfixed. They conjured an intoxicating sound that hearkened back to the early days of rock ‘n roll, with songs and arrangements influenced by rockabilly and doo-wop. Lead singer Gregory DiMartino cut an arresting figure on stage. He was lanky and expressive, and his voice slid between a quavering crooner and a soul screamer over the course of the band’s songs. There was an intense, pleasing melodrama to the music, at turns bombastic and pleading.
Watch the video for Turn! Turn! Turn! show below. “Angels” starts at 28 minutes:
The band recently released a video for the song “Angels,” the highlight of the album, directed by Ry Pieri. The song encapsulates what I find so alluring about the band, and is punctuated by strings and brass that add to the dramatic effect of the story of spurned love. The video is filled with surreal exposures of smoke or fog, blank rooms, distant corridors, and human longing. I think it does a great job of capturing the best qualities of the band. They made a believer and a fan for life out of me with a single performance.
Cover photo by Tino Drima at Turn! Turn! Turn!, November 2017. Photo courtesy Yousef Hatlani for Faces on the Radio