Spokane band Manito has the following bit of advice for bands planning to travel overseas: “Make sure to take toilet paper wherever you go,” says singer/keyboardist Dave DuPree.
They learned this little lesson the hard way.
Three weeks ago, the long-time Inland Northwest band returned from a two-month tour of the Mediterranean. Selected by the Department of Defense to entertain our troops overseas, Manito played 31 shows in places like Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Jordan and Italy.
Toilet paper wasn’t always on hand.
Still, for this band that’s entertained Inland Northwest music fans for more than a decade, traveling abroad has been an eye-opening and mind-broadening experience.
They performed at embassies and dance clubs, in front of high-ranking officials and soldiers’ children.
“You’ve got some shows where there’s nothing but a thousand guys with guns sitting out there in a desert on cots,” DuPree says.
The band even broke into song inside the Great Pyramid - until the police told them to stop.
Manito has been together in various forms for 12 years and, with this lineup, for six years. DuPree is joined by Heather Black on lead vocals, Doug Smith on bass, Mike Koep on drums and Bob Burdett on guitar. All join in on vocals.
It is the Manito crew’s ability to play just about any request thrown at them - from The Eagles to Aerosmith, Jewel to The Commodores and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to KC and the Sunshine Band - that got them selected to entertain the troops.
That, plus their ever-present sense of humor.
“I think the favorite phrase we like to coin is that we’re chock full of cheese,” DuPree says.
A song about a dog - “Come On Sniff My Butt” - was a favorite of the overseas troops.
“Our band has fun all the time,” DuPree says. “We started out with the theory that we were going to play whatever anybody wanted. Now that’s what we do. If we’ve even heard a song once, we’ll attempt it. Our guitar player Bob is one of those freakazoids that even if somebody’s hummed it to him he can play all the chords. And even if I don’t know the words I can just kind of fake it and look stupid and it works.”
Which brings us to Manito’s second favorite phrase about themselves: “We fake it and suck better than anybody else,” DuPree says with a laugh.
Self-depreciating humor aside, this band has been drawing crowds around here for years with music that ranges from rock to country to funk.
“Right now we’re digging playing disco stuff. We started forcing disco down people’s throats and then all of a sudden people started asking for it. Actually, we’re responsible for the entire disco resurgence. We’re thinking about changing the band name to Manito Hit Explosion.”
This is the second time Manito has been sent to the Middle East. Next year they’ll be sent to Northern Europe.
“We’re on pretty much a yearly schedule and we’ll be seeing pretty much every part of the planet by the time we’re done,” DuPree says.
Of course, all this world travel has taught DuPree to truly appreciate some things back here in the United States.
“Toilet seats are my friend. You can actually sit on something. You don’t realize how good you got it here.”
Catch Manito at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Shore Lounge in Coeur d’Alene, every Tuesday through Saturday until Jan. 17. There is no cover charge and the show starts at 9 p.m.
Pick up the ‘Prize’
At times profound and subtly powerful, Tiana Gregg’s first CD “Prize” is exactly what it advertises: a reward for anyone who picks it up.
The 26-year-old Spokane woman, who has plucked and played her acoustic guitar up through the coffeehouse and bar show ranks, has now delivered a standout effort that moves with both grace and determination.
Produced by Gregg and her band and recorded at BopTech Studios here in Spokane, “Prize” is a followup to the nine-song tape “Giant” she released in 1996.
On this latest effort, Gregg’s voice is a powerhouse, in turn nimbly breathtaking and pointedly searing. She is backed up by fabulous lap steel guitarist Hidde Hanenburg, bassist Jonathan Hawkins and drummer Dan Ellis.
From the severe emotions of “Your Highness” to gentler sentiments of “Devils in the Deep End” this album digs and winds its way through Gregg’s life and finds the musician an increasingly adept storyteller. And certainly Gregg’s life has given her plenty of fodder - from, at 18, losing her mother to cancer to losing her father to suicide four years later.
“I am the daughter of a madman, I hold his anger in a fist,” she rails in song as Hanenburg’s lap steel wails in accompaniment.
The album also travels nicely among various paces, from the easy acoustic movement of the title track “Prize” to the gritty “Fifty Lashes.”
For Gregg, who dreamed of being a musician from the time she was a child watching her father practice with his own band, “Prize” is much more than its title for her.
“This is my life’s work and making the CD is making a dream come true,” she says. “I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.”
Gregg will perform solo Saturday at the Valley Hastings store starting at 7 p.m.
She’ll be joined by the rest of the band for their CD release party Tuesday at the Bayou Brewery. Cover is $5, or free with the purchase of a CD at the door. Sweet Fancy Moses opens the show at 9:30 p.m.
For a little something on the aggressive side check out The Cuckoos at Ichabod’s North Saturday night. This punk foursome formed in Seattle when three security guards for the famous Nirvana couple hooked up with Shannon “Brown” O’Wery.
O’Wery’s previous band, Hatemail, toured with bands like Neurosis and 7 Year Bitch while guitarist Duke Fame’s former group hit the road with The Jesus Lizard and Killdozer.
The Cuckoos are on their first U.S. tour and are set to release a CD on I.F.A. Records - home of Zeke, Plexi and The LaDonnas.
Boycott opens the show Saturday, starting at 9:30. Cover is $4.
Catch Distorted Silence, Morning Breath, Phrumunda and Ashland at Outback Jack’s tonight. Show starts at 9 p.m.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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