Jeff Mattson-lead guitar, vocals
Klyph Black-bass, vocals, dobro, lap steel
Tom Circosta-guitar, vocals, piano
The Zen Tricksters can do it all. They are a superbly talented Rock/Jam band who play in both electric and acoustic formats and they are once again touring as a four-piece electric band. The Tricksters have a huge working repertoire that ranges from their tuneful and well-crafted original pieces to traditional bluegrass and hillbilly jazz classics, to Grateful Dead, Dylan, Neil Young, and inventive interpretations of any and all songs that catch their fancy. The Zen Tricksters are not only renowned for the trademark jamming ability they have displayed for over two decades, but also for their inspired songwriting. This band will rock you, psychedelicize you, make you cry, and pick it with the best of them!
The Zen Tricksters have three studio CDs of all original material. Their most recent release, Shaking Off the Weirdness, (2003), features some newer titles such as High Horse and Sleepwalking, as well as staples of their live shows, Light of Life and The One, and boasts a colorful roster of special guests including former Trickster and current member of The Dead and Phil Lesh & Friends, Rob Barraco, Buddy Cage (New Riders of the Purple Sage), and Jason Crosby (former ZT, now with Susan Tedeschi and Oteil & the Peacemakers). The band's other two CDs are The Holy Fool, recorded in 1996, and A Love Surreal, 1999.
When he heard A Love Surreal, Phil Lesh was so impressed with the band's ability to jam in the studio that he tapped two members to be part of his Phil & Friends collective. In an interview with Kenny T of radio station KGLT in June of 2000, Phil said, "The Tricksters are more than just a cover band. They have their own stuff and they are brilliant, their stuff is brilliant. They are great players!" The Zen Tricksters are the quintessential jamband. Based in New York, they play nearly 150 dates a year while touring throughout the United States and Canada. They have also toured in Nagoya, Yokohama, and Tokyo with Relix Japan and it is generally safe to say that the Tricksters are "currently on tour" somewhere in the United States or elsewhere.
The Zen Tricksters are into their third decade as a performing band. Their performances have included:
* Big Apple Bluegrass Festival * Seattle Hemp Fest
* Oregon's Country Fair and Pig Nic * New York's Gathering of the Vibes (all 8)
* California's High Sierra Fest * Eugene Hemp Fest
* Pocono's Gathering on the Mountain * New York's Wetlands Preserve (played more than any other band)
The Tricksters have performed with:
* David Nelson Band * Peter Rowan * Vassar Clements
* Derek Trucks * Mike Gordon * Tom Constanten
* String Cheese Incident * Kenny Kosek * Melvin Seals
* Vince Welnick * Dark Star Orchestra * Stanley Jordan
And have shared the stage with:
* Jerry Garcia Band * Suzanne Vega * The Jefferson Starship
* David Grisman Quintet
Founding member and lead guitarist of the Zen Tricksters, Jeff Mattson grew up under the influence of the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, and music in general. His style is very melodic yet energetic, eclectic, and with solid roots in rock & roll, blues, bluegrass, country, jazz, and folk, with a healthy pinch of psychedelia. As adept on acoustic (fingerpicking and flatpicking) as he is on electric, he also delivers heart-wrenching emotional vocals. Jeff loves to access new territory and he gives free reign to his band mates to travel anywhere musically that they can. Jeff was asked to audition for Phil Lesh & Friends in the fall of 1999 and in October, 1999 Jeff and then Trickster keyboard player, Rob Barraco, played three shows with Phil & Friends at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. He also co-wrote featured track, Leave Me Out of This on Phil & Friends new Sony CD, There and Back Again.
Klyph Black is a huge and seasoned talent. As Trickster Trio bass player and vocalist, he brings a driving backbone rhythm and pulse to the band Also adept at slide guitar and dobro, Black honed his knowledge of the music business through his experience with two big-label bands, Urgent and Vendetta. He is the consummate blues man and master of funk, and adds his own brand of pathos and warmth to the Zen sound with his heart-pounding bass and vocals that range from rough and grungy to sweet and melodic. Klyph also plays on occasion with his side project killer blues band, Rumor Has It, and he has an acoustic CD out called Black and Sparrow.
Tom Circosta goes back a long way with Jeff, to a time in the early 1980s when the band was called the Volunteers. With the band for a number of years, Tom later took some time off to pursue other interests, but returned to the fold in 1999 to play the music that is his life's dream. Tom has a fine ear for harmonies and counterpoint and always manages to come up with the perfect rhythm guitar to compliment the lead. He is an incredibly talented arranger and singer and along with Klyph and Jeff, creates solid and beautiful vocal harmonies. He has been playing with Jeff for so long that their musical minds are often one, making for unbelievably complex and lovely guitar duo riffs. He is also an excellent pianist and has released a CD of original tunes with his side-project band, Hope In Time, called, appropriately enough, Hope In Time.
Tricksters music has been used on MTV, WABC's Alias, and WB's Felicity. The Zen Tricksters are proud to be a Homegrown Music Net member band and although they play many local New York area gigs, they inevitably wind up back on the road. This is their life and it is what they love. Jeff is very proud of the fact that he has never made his living in any other way but music. "Road life," he says "very much embodies the yin-yang of life. You trade the long hours of traveling and tedium day after day for the supreme pleasure and sheer love of making your own kind of live music night after night." That is quite obvious at any Zen Trickster show--you can hear their love of their art in every performance they give.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Talk of the Town
2. Light of Life
3. All Night Long Blues
4. Waiting for a Sign
6. Last Ten Years
7. The One
8. No One Said It'd Be Easy
9. High Horse
10. The Dean Street Mess Around