On most Sunday nights, Paul Slavens is on air hosting “The Paul Slavens Show” on 91.7 KXT. This night he was roaming through the crowd at Dan’s Silverleaf in his “May the Force be with you” shirt, enjoying live music and the company of friends, fans and former bandmates there to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Ten Hands’ live album THE BIG ONE IS COMING.
The bartenders kept busy, serving beer and cocktails to fans as Ten Hands percussionist Mike Dillon and his band prepared for their set.
When you get older, you get busier, Slavens says, which is why people don’t typically see Ten Hands performing with members like Dillon and drummer Earl Harvin, but open schedules allowed the two to make it to the show, completing the original lineup featured on the album 30 years ago.
A sign on Dan's front door told the unlucky that the show was sold out. This is not an unusual occurrence for the band. Slavens, Ten Hands front man, says the band sold out venues pretty consistently in the '80s at Club Dada, where the album was recorded.
The band has always been about making people move and have fun but also being intellectual, Slavens says.
“It ain’t nothing but a good time,” he says.
Consequently, the group has always been more of a live band. They were unable to translate the energy behind their live performances into a studio recording. It’s an age-old problem that's exacerbated when an act is larger than life like Ten Hands.
Slavens is as much an actor as he is a musician when he’s fronting Ten Hands. His eyes open and shut wildly as he emotes every lyric he sings. Most audience members matched his and the rest of the band’s energy, dancing and singing along to every track.
“These people, they’ve been comin’ and hearing the music for 30 years 'cause it’s theirs,” Slavens says. “It’s their life. It’s where all their memories are in.”
These fans are no strangers to the dynamic performances Ten Hands has put on over the years. One minute the whole band was screaming at the top of their lungs, and the next, the venue was nearly silent as Slavens whispered into the microphone.
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Members of the Grammy Award-winning band Brave Combo were also among the crowd. They had played a set at Dan’s the night before commemorating the birthday of missing percussionist Joe Cripps. Ten Hands and Brave Combo shared time with Cripps as a band member before he went missing.
“I wanna give a big ‘I love you and wish you were here’ to Joe Cripps,” Slavens says while on stage. “I love you, man.”
The band finished up the album in the first half of their set, but not before thanking everyone for supporting their music over the years. One fan held up an original cassette tape of the album.
“Thirty years and we still have the brain cells. They’re still there,” Slavens yelled.
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The second half of their set was just as powerful as the first. It was filled with brilliant percussion work by Dillon and Harvin and masterful performances by Steve Brand on guitar and Chapman Stick player Gary Muller.
The most memorable part of the night was when the band wrote an impromptu song about the last 30 years.
“Played at Dada every week playin’ some beats, so you can move your feet,” Slavens improvised.
Dave Castell, a local producer, recorded THE BIG ONE IS COMING. However, right before Ten Hands went to Los Angeles for a recording session that ended up being a disaster, Slavens said Castell recorded another live set by the band. Slavens says the band is looking to put this recording out in the future. It is the closest in-studio recording to capture what Ten Hands is all about.