Hudson Valley native Joey Eppard, guitarist and lead singer of the rock band 3, made the Slash Root Tech Cafe in New Paltz the latest unannounced tour stop for his side project EGO. Also including 3's drummer Chris Gartmann and bassist Alana Orchid, the band has been appearing at various nearby venues such as Keegan Ales in Kingston and Harmony Music in Woodstock, but their New Paltz stop to play a birthday party was only attended by those in the know, and anyone that could get there fast enough.
EGO played a variety of material, drawing on 3's discography, Eppard's solo work, and Orchid's material. Although Eppard and Gartmann frequently play to crowds of many thousands, the band's sound was perfectly adapted to the intimate setting of 60 Main Street. The cafe's stage was so close to the audience that co-owner Justin Holmes was able to spend several minutes watching Eppard's characteristic slap-guitar style, trying to puzzle out how it works.
The identity of the band was swathed in secrecy for all but a few who were in the know. According to Kieran Prasch, who manages the computer services tech bench at the cafe, “We had no idea who was going to be playing until they showed up.” Other than the birthday girl and her invitees, most attendees got word of the act via text message or Facebook; no announcement of the show was posted by the band.
Opening for EGO was a New Paltz-based band, the AnkleBiters, who performed a rendition of the Violent Femmes' Blister in the Sun for the birthday girl. Claiming that he didn't know “Happy Birthday,” Eppard led the band in a “3 style” birthday song, and asked the AnkleBiters drummer Jimi Towers to sit in. After the show, Eppard told Towers, who is a fan who knows all of 3's songs, “You were better than Chris.”
The band members all claimed to enjoy the secret show, and Eppard even hinted that it would be fun to bring 3 to play there. To that, Prasch reacted, “We'd have to take out the front wall to make room for everybody.”