With the annual Community Festival in full-swing on Saturday, I found myself dodging pedestrians meandering their way in and out of Goodale Park as I made my way to Woodland’s Tavern.

The reason I was skipping ComFest on Saturday evening was the invitation to see The Devil Doves album release show at Woodland’s Tavern, celebrating their newest musical effort, “Also Playing.”

Unknowingly, I was about to experience a cluster of sounds that was at once comforting, while also myriad in its influences. It’s not too often that I am surprised by a band, but dare I say… they did indeed pleasantly surprise my aural synapses.

Junior Kauffman letting loose…
(Credit: S Toale / Music in Motion Columbus)

The band is comprised of Junior Kauffman (vocals/guitar/harmonica), Kyle Davis (trejon/vocals), Eric Nassau (bass/vocals) and Jeff Straw (keyboards/vocals). They describe their sound as “Clusterfolk,” which describes their sound rather well.

Also joining the festivities on Saturday evening were Breanne and Nate Anstine, celebrating their seventh wedding anniversary. Nate and Kyle Davis are long-time friends, with Davis taking part in the Anstine’s wedding ceremony. Being introduced to them was another highlight of my evening.

The opening band were slightly delayed in getting started, as the “after-ComFest” crowd filtered into the establishment. The Jeffs played a lively set, warming up the crowd for what was to come.

The Devil Doves then took to the stage, with Kauffman asking the audience, “Is everybody having a good time, so far?” The roar of approval was all the band needed to hear, launching into the first track, Papa Tried, from the new album. The uptempo number has an almost jug band vibe to it, with the crowd immediately dancing around enthusiastically.

Wicked channeled a 1960’s surf rock sound, with the band visibly feeling good. Kauffman’s “YOW!” scream punctuated the tune, with Straw coaxing that 60’s sound from his keyboards to the delight of the crowd.

The midtempo groove of Song and Dance followed, with Kauffman’s gravelly vocals adding to the almost sinister edge of the song.

Jeff Straw tickling the ivories…
(Credit: S Toale / Music in Motion Columbus)

The faster pace of Bad Seed was reminiscent of a meshing of The Cramps and The Amazing Royal Crowns. The harmonies were showcased exquisitely on this number, the band playing with a “tight” quality that was heard throughout the evening.

The slower groove of Good Question followed, evoking images of the band sitting on a front porch in the summertime. Once again, their harmonies were glowing.

“Who do think is gonna love me when you’re gone?” the band sang acapella, announcing the wonderful Who Do You think? The midtempo number had some nice harmonica work from Kauffman, with Nassau solidly in the pocket with his bass.

With the crowd swaying in-time with the music, the band launched into Thunderstorm. Straw’s keyboard work was eerily reminiscent of The Band in their heyday, adding a nice touch and showcasing the depth of the quartet. The audience joined the band in singing the chorus of “Let’s all get high…”

“We’re gonna do Promise Land right now,” announced Kauffman, launching the band into the slow groove and nice melodies of the tune. “Whatever happened to Rock-n-Roll, living fast, dying young and selling your soul?” sang Kauffman knowingly.

Things That Kept Us Apart was a slow burner with excellent harmonies that picked-up the pace midway through. With a low volume, but steady backbeat, the band did shots before closing out the song, much to the delight of the assembled throng.

Eric Nassau serenading with sweet harmonies…
(Credit: S Toale / Music in Motion Columbus)

In the interval between songs, a fan yelled, “We love you Devil Doves,” with the band immediately playing Untitled Murder Song #3. The crowd was dancing merrily, with Straw’s keyboards showing prominence.

Untitled Murder Song #4, a spaghetti Western-sounding tune evoking images of Kauffman yelling “Giddy Up!” was next, with everyone in the room feeling his emotive vocals. Davis seemed to be almost in a trance-like state as he played the trejon throughout the evening, but especially on this number.

The band played Happy Birthday to Sara, although Kauffman remarked in the middle of the tune “I’m not sure if it’s with an H or not.”

With the crowd swaying once again, the band played their most delicate song of the evening, Traveling Circus.

Before playing the aurally pleasing Cosmic Freight Train, Kauffman remarked that the song was about a friend who had passed away. The last voicemail he received is immortalized at the beginning of the recorded version of the song. The uptempo rocker had the crowd paying rapt attention.

Kyle Davis keeping the rhythm…
(Credit: S Toale / Music in Motion Columbus)

Hearing Test was a smoldering, midtempo groover that was well-received by the audience, with an almost lilting quality to Kauffman’s vocals.

“This is the last one on the album,” announced Kauffman, with just an acoustic guitar and smart work on the keyboards to open Birdy Bones. As throughout the evening, the band’s harmonies were on full display in this tune to close out their night.

Upon the conclusion of the song, the crowd roared its approval of a wonderful set of music by The Devil Doves.

Defying the notion of being pigeonholed into one strict musical category, the band showed they have a sound that is truly their own. They are most assuredly a band to be experienced in a live setting, with added verve and energy emanating from the four of them as they feed off the energy of the fans before them.

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Setlist

  1. Papa Tried *
  2. Wicked *
  3. Song and Dance *
  4. Bad Seed *
  5. Good Question *
  6. Who Do You Think? *
  7. Thunderstorm
  8. Promise Land
  9. Things That Kept Us Apart
  10. Untitled Murder Song #3
  11. Untitled Murder Song #4 *
  12. “Happy Birthday”
  13. Traveling Circus *
  14. Cosmic Freight Train *
  15. Hearing Test *
  16. Birdy Bones *

* denotes song from new album “Also Playing”

The Devil Doves – Untitled Murder Song #3