Most of the big fireworks shows will be over before Oteil Burbridge brings his peace-and-love-flavored fusion to the Memorial Union Terrace on July 5. But you can bet a few hundred incendiary "novelties" will be getting blowed up real good over and around Lake Mendota when the Aquarium Rescue Unit co-founder and Allman Brothers Band bass player takes the stage. That should suit Burbridge and his band the Peacemakers just fine. Burbridge's crew is a party in a box, and a perfect choice for a holiday weekend devoted to beer, bottle rockets and brats.
Burbridge has certainly learned some tricks from Bootsy Collins, and at times the Peacemakers make direct reference to P-Funk. But they're also very much a jam act and move quickly from simple thumping to the baroque ecstasies of full-on fusion. In his time, Burbridge has run scales with the likes of Victor Wooten, Soulive and members of the Dixie Dregs, and he's not one to pass up an opportunity to stretch out on a jazz-rock bass solo. His love of pop-friendly scat singing (think George Benson without the Top 40 sheen) also means that even instrumental passages get a dose of his anodyne pipes. His convincing tenor voice also works well on swampy grooves, R&B-tinged fare and Allmans-inflected Southern blues-rock, which means you don't have to be a bass addict to plug into the Peacemakers' upbeat vibe. Although, frankly, it helps.