SXSW Preview: Peter Stampfel and the Ether Frolic Mob

Written by

From KCRW DJ Chuck P:

Peter Stampfel is best known for his first band, The Holy Modal Rounders, a duo with Steve Weber. They gigged around NYC and the northeast with their brand of old timey folk mixed with psychedelia. Sam Shepard was known to play with them on occasion.

Even most who’ve never heard of the band are familiar with the track, “Bird Song”, which was featured prominently in the movie, Easy Rider.

One of their most notable projects (in which they were billed as The Unholy Modal Rounders) involved Michael Hurley & The Clamtones on an album called, “Have Moicy!” Easily a defining album of the generation.

Stampfel’s players in the Ether Frolic Mob involve anyone who is available to play, ensuring that each gig will be something special.

Oddly, the phrase Ether Frolic Mob describes the music better than I could.

In the late 19th century, when ether came into use, ether frolic shows utilized a rented stage where people would go up and inhale ether. And the frolic that ensued would either be watched by the audience OR the audience could go up on stage and partake in the fun.

I read somewhere that it was like an old time acid test. I’m guessing a pretty accurate take on the music too.

— Chuck P