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It’s their jam: High Ceiling celebrates third album with Capitol Theater show

Brad Schrandt, Joel Black, Trail Black, Frank Fox, and Gabe Olson make up the band High Ceiling. They will perform Saturday night at the Capitol Theater.
Brad Schrandt, Joel Black, Trail Black, Frank Fox, and Gabe Olson make up the band High Ceiling. They will perform Saturday night at the Capitol Theater.

When they're not making ice cream, Trail and Joel Black are making jams.

The brothers from Shelton — who work at their parents’ Olympic Mountain Ice Cream — are the heart of the reggae-fusion jam band High Ceiling, playing Saturday at the Capitol Theater.

“Our band is finally at a point where we can play at the Capitol Theater and get a big enough crowd out that it’s going to be high energy,” Trail Black said in a phone interview.

The show, celebrating the release of the band’s third album, “Easy,” will offer spectacle as well as sound, with a light show and an elaborate video backdrop projected on the theater’s big screen.

This album — the band’s first in eight years — is worthy of celebrating, said Black, who sings and plays guitar.

“In the last five years, we’ve had a group of people in the band who are just stellar musicians,” he said. Along with Joel Black on bass and vocals, the current lineup includes Gabe Olson, also a founding member, on percussion; Frank Fox on drums; and Brad Schrandt on keyboards, saxophone and more. Guitarist Chris Stephanile, who played on “Easy,” has since left both the state and the band.

“This album is definitely our best work and our most complete work,” Trail Black said. “I feel like it’s going to stand the test of time as our High Ceiling legacy.”

Black said the band, which plays at many local and regional festivals, is still going strong after 14 years.

The Blacks started the band in 2004, not long after they began jamming together at home.

They’d grown up with music, with their mom, Bev, encouraging piano lessons and dad, Karl, sharing stories from his days playing bass with The Poverty Five, a Beatles-esque band that opened for both The Doors and The Grateful Dead.

High Ceiling’s early songs came out of jam sessions, taking inspiration from the energy of such bands as Phish and The String Cheese Incident. The band broke with traditional song structures, played in rarely used keys, and mixed songs into one another freely.

The band’s style has since evolved. The Blacks write most of the songs, which combine elements of reggae, rock, funk and more.

But the guys are still jamming, making space within songs for improvisation.

“We want every performance to be different,” Trail Black said. “Every time I go into a guitar solo, I’m thinking, ‘What can I do differently?’ I know that’s what inspires our audience.”

The visuals for Saturday’s concert will be improvised, too, with video projections created during the show by Sean Bonsell of Olympia. Bonsell mixes live performance footage with other video and special effects.

“It’s a flowing, organic montage,” Bonsell said in a phone interview. “I’m pretty much jamming with the band.”

The backdrop and the band’s computerized light show mean the visual is an important part of the concert, which will include a performance of the entire new album plus other songs.

“When it’s on a giant screen behind the band, the video is all encompassing for the audience,” Black said. “Transcendent, trippy things happen.”

High Ceiling

The Olympia reggae-fusion jam band celebrates the release of its third album. DBST opens.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday; doors open at 7 p.m.

Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia

Tickets: $10, free for children under 12

Also: The mezzanine lounge will be open for ages 21 and older.

More info: 360-754-6670, olympiafilmsociety.org, highceilingmusic.com

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