Live Bait Duo
Wild Wing Cafe, Mt. Pleasant
April 17

There’s no shortage of acoustic bar-rock performers in this town. Most duos gigging out there feature two dudes on six-strings, singing familiar tunes in decent harmony. Some of the more distinctive two-piece acts mix it up with a guitarist and a percussionist.

One of the newest duos on the circuit, the Live Bait Duo, is actually comprised of two of the local scene’s most experienced veterans — Dave Dunning and Bruce Patrick.

They were part of the ’90s rock band Live Bait, known for their twangy renditions of rock anthems and groove-heavy original material. The band formed in 1994 and went through a number of lineup changes over the next few years. They called it quits by the early 2000s.

We caught the newly formed Live Bait Duo this week during one of their kick-off shows at the Wild Wing in Mt. Pleasant. They plan to perform on the spacious patio every Sunday evening this spring. Dunning and Patrick looked at ease as they delivered their setlist to a crowd of East Cooperites.

The scene at the Wing on Sundays is pretty family-friendly. There were a number of little kids and puppy dogs running around the patio while Dunning and Patrick bounced through their well-behaved first set, which ran at about a five-to-one cover/original ratio. Their own songs resembled a blend of Alex Chilton-style guitar pop and Keith Richards-approved roots-rock.

With Dunning handling several guitar parts (via loop effects pedals) and Patrick tapping rhythms on hand percussion (conga, tambourine, shakers, wind chimes), they touched on plenty of melodic hits from the 1960s and ’70s, from obscure gems by the Pure Prairie League, Paul Simon, and the Doobies to early-era Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Fleetwood Mac. They played it straight and tried not to impersonate.

Dunning’s display of guitar licks and looped chord progressions were particularly tasteful. He got a lot of “full band” effect out of his gear. Patrick’s subtle accents and sturdy downbeats flowed with consistency.

The Live Bait Duo were at the top of their game when singing in harmony, though. Dunning’s raspy delivery actually complemented Patrick’s more velvety style. Chemistry like that doesn’t pop up at the usual Sunday evening bar gig. Hopefully, this weekly gig will feature even more original rock and cool deep cuts as it moves ahead.

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