By Joshua Peacock/SMN
Charleston’s Dangermuffin makes a return trip to the region June 9, bringing their usual easygoing sound, a new band member and a brand-new album with them.
Formed on Folly Beach in Charleston, S.C., circa 2008, Dangermuffin came together around the trio of Dan Lotti (vocals, guitar, bass), Mike Sivilli (lead, rhythm guitar) and Steven Sandifer (drums). Drawing from a range of influences that include Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Phish and The Allman Brothers, the trio began honing in on their own eclectic mix of beachy, jam-infused stylings.
At the center of the project is Lotti’s positive, uplifting spirit that heralds a feel-good vibe, now baked into the soul of the band. Behind him, Sandifer constructs reggae and jazz-infused grooves, while Sivilli, a master guitarist, accents the driving force with a plethora of bending lead parts that draw influence from some of the greatest lead guitarists of all time.
For their sixth studio album, 2017’s “Heritage,” Dangermuffin wanted to experiment with expanding the project’s sound, while also creating unique moments on the new album. This thought came to fruition in a two-fold layout: They added drummer Markus Helander while Sandifer shifted to upright bass and percussion, and they actually recorded portions of the album in a church.
“We have a lot of familiarity with each other and how we write songs and what we’re bringing to the table,” Lotti said. “We have some decent experience with how to go from song idea to a song that’s ready for the studio.”
Most of Dangermuffin’s albums are recorded in their favorite studio, Charleston’s Truphonic. For “Heritage,” they were able to mix it up a bit, using the historic Unitarian Church of Charleston as a host in addition to their regular studio.
“I think it’s the second oldest church in the whole city,” Lotti said. “It’s just got this vibe in there; the natural acoustics. We were able to bring in some nice microphones and capture the natural ambiance of the church.
“You’ll hear it in the lead vocals when the album first starts. There’s an a cappella line and there’s no digital effects on the vocals. There’s a little bit of effects on other stuff, but most of the album was done with this natural ambiance.
“Being in that space — I don’t think any of us are religious by any means — but it was definitely an appropriate place to deliver the songs,” Lotti continued. “There’s a healing aspect to the music. It’s sort of always been that way for us.”
“Heritage” carries on Dangermuffin’s beach vibe with catchy and lush pop melodies, roaming reggae grooves, jazz-influenced chord progressions and Lotti’s soothing vocal lines. Among the album’s strongest tracks, “The Sea And The Rose” dips sweetly into a sea of ease, with a driving groove that, with the assistance of some burning candles, might center your chi on its own.
“We feel we’re aligned with our higher purpose as people,” Lotti said. “This is kind of the message we want to deliver. If you dig into the lyrics, you find a lot of empowering messages about the things that are around us at all times. Working with these natural elements: the ocean, the sun. Everybody has their relationship with these things. I think there’s a lot to be said for that. A lot of people can relate with these things, and they’re sort of bringing about a lot of perspective.
“Heritage is a very old tradition that is connected with our natural surroundings that has been a very strong source of empowerment for a very long time,” Lotti added. “As a society and a culture, we’ve lost touch with that. It’s my hope that the music will help bring people back to their center.”
Dangermuffin is no stranger to Savannah. They’ve come down the highway several times over the years, making a bit of a home away from home on Tybee. The last time they appeared in the Hostess City, they opened for Old Crow Medicine Show at the 2016 Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon.
“There are a lot of connections between the vibe of Tybee and the vibe of Folly,” Lotti said. “Two very similar places. We love that energy. We think we’ve found a little home there.”
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m. June 9
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.