The first time I heard the Donkeys’ “Excelsior Lady,” I thought they were singing, “sexy lady.” Fortunately, I was wrong. But almost everything about the Donkeys — from the Crosby Stills and Nash harmonies to the lightly strummed guitars to the extremely laid-back tempos — suggests the kind of ’70s band that would unabashedly sing a line like “Sexy lady, how you been?/ Are we lovers, or are we just friends?”
The producers of the TV show Lost apparently had the same idea about the Donkeys. They used “Excelsior Lady” — rerecorded as “Dharma Lady” — in a recent episode, attributing the song to a ’70s band called Geronimo Jackson. You can even download the song for free on the iTunes music store, where it’s credited to Geronimo Jackson. But try looking up Geronimo Jackson — you won’t find them in the rock history books. Lucy Robinson, publicist for the Donkeys’ record label, admits that all involved have been “a little cheeky about it” but confirms that the Donkeys were the band behind Geronimo Jackson.
But the Donkeys aren’t a ’70s tribute act. Ironically, the Geronimo Jackson affair underscores how modern the Donkeys are. Donkey music is sort of like the Geronimo Jackson logo used on Lost — it’s rendered in the style of the era, but the clean lines are a giveaway that it was created on a modern computer. Listen to the snappy, almost machine-like drumming on “Excelsior Lady” — that’s not a ’70s sound or style. Listen to that beautifully swirling, repeating keyboard part — it’s a warm, analog electric piano, but the rhythm sounds like a digital loop. Historically accurate? No. But in any era, it’s good stuff.
DONKEYS: The Casbah, Thursday, April 9, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $12; $14 day of show. Vetiver and Richard Swift also perform.