Hudson Valley Jam Band Dephcat Takes Over Tri-State Area

Dephcat has been playing together since 2019, and started performing at New Paltz venues last year. The band most recently performed at Snug’s on Tuesday, Feb. 1. Photo by Ryan Carrick

On Feb. 1, Hudson Valley-based jam band Dephcat made their second stop of their winter tour at Snug Harbor along with New York jam band Hilltop.

The band, established in 2019, is made up of Brendan Bartow on keys and vocals, Sam Kirschner on drums, Jonas Damion on guitar and Chris Gamba on bass and vocals. After over two years of playing music together, they put out their first single, “Coffee,” on Dec. 24 of last year. This was only their second performance since the official release, and their first one back in New Paltz in 2022.

The band have quickly become Snug’s locals, and have headlined at the bar multiple times this past year as indoor gathering COVID restrictions started to ease. Although the band feels that their recent show lacked the crowd they usually tend to draw in, they feel very attached to the New Paltz community and the people that come out to support their music.

“I think shows at Snug’s are always awesome,” said Gamba. “I feel really comfortable.”

“We’ve been to a plethora of different venues, and [Snug’s has] a really good onstage monitor system, which is good for the band, because we can actually hear,” Bartow said. “It’s a comfortable spot to kind of experiment a little bit as well. We just feel at home.”

When Dephcat formed in 2019, Bartow and Gamba were freshman year suitemates attending Marist College. Kirschner was a highschool friend of Bartow’s, and they met Damion from an ad posted on campus, where he was searching for a band to play with.

Before COVID-19 hit, the band was only able to play one house show at Marist and one bar gig before they were reduced to practicing inside. Now, the band has over 50 live shows under their belt. Their after-quarantine debut was an outdoor performance at the Rail Trail with What?, a fellow New Paltz band. 

“We were pretty ready to go because of how much we practiced, but we had zero show experience,” said Bartow. “So we got that one in; it was a fun little house party. Then we played five shows in that span of two months, and it slowly picked back up. And then it was summer and we had over 30 shows. We got those in, and then it’s just kind of a ride out from there. We’ve been using the videos from those shows to get more shows and just keep pushing.”

Before getting their name out in the Hudson Valley, the group relied on social media to gain traction by posting video streams of their performances on Reddit. Those videos alone gave them over 700 new Instagram followers before they released any recorded music. Now, the official Dephcat page has over 1,500 followers, and the band gets recognized from their Instagram at shows. 

Drawing from essential jam band roots, Dephcat is inspired by Grateful Dead, Phish and Goose in terms of musicality. They also are influenced by pop and vocal artists such as Jack Johnson and John Mayer. 

Since improvisation is a key aspect in jam band culture, the group is constantly switching up their songs during live performances, even flipping the way they played “Coffee” prior to its release.

“A week before we even recorded it we changed the whole chorus,” said Bartow. “It might be different in a year.”

The band has upcoming plans to play in Albany, Woodbury and Oneonta. After their gig at Snug’s, they went on to play at the Berlin venue in Manhattan on Feb. 6. Their goal is to continue to open up for larger jam bands so they could reach a wider audience in different areas. They also plan to release some singles, along with an EP in the summer. 

The band will be returning to Snug’s for their next show with fellow New Paltz jam band Man’s Mother on Feb. 12. They are excited to see their New Paltz fans and encourage them to stay on the lookout for more of their music. 

“We came from Poughkeepsie, and [New Paltz’s scene] is infinitely better than theirs,” Bartow said. “The crowd is more interested in live music than people not even 50 miles from here.”

Follow Dephcat on Instagram, @dephcat, to keep posted on more performances and new releases. 

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About Alli Dempsey 30 Articles
Allison (Alli) Dempsey (she/her) is a fourth-year journalism major and communications minor from Staten Island, NY. This is her fourth semester on the Oracle, and third as Arts Editor. She is also a member of the WFNP Radio E-board staff, president of the New Paltz Music Collective and manages her own music blog, Twilight Collective. You can reach her by emailing dempseya1@newpaltz.edu.