• Jammin Organ4:34

At the end of the night after they stepped off stage the musicians performing with jazz saxophone player David Sanborn would play a game they called iPod wars.

Here are the rules: Compare the music on each iPod. The owner of the device with the most unexpected selections is the winner.

"On the road with Sanborn in Japan after the gigs we would be listening to all this music that we liked and grew up with. We put on everything from Cream and Procol Harum, to obscure stuff like Bloodrock or whatever," recalls guitarist Nicky Moroch, who has backed rocker David Bowie and jazz pianist Bill Evans.

Inspired by their eclectic musical tastes the group members, who are some of the most sought-after backing musicians in the industry, decided to form a new group without musical boundaries.

"We were just like 'wouldn't it be fun to go out and play whatever we wanted to play and not categorize it?' If we want to play a jazz tune we'll play a jazz tune, if we want to play an R&B; tune we'll do that, or we could do an AC/DC tune and not think anything of it."

As a result The Sideguys band was born. The group will perform at the Infinity Music Hall & Bistro in Norfolk on Friday, Dec. 21, at 8 p.m. Opening for them will be the band Suitcase Rodeo.

In addition to Moroch, The Sideguys features keyboardist Ricky Peterson, who has been a regular with Prince and Bonnie Raitt's bands, bass player Richard Patterson, who has played with Miles Davis and Boz Scaggs, drummer Gene Lake who has played with Me'shell Ndegeocello and Marcus Miller. The group also regularly works with a variety of guest musicians. At the Infinity Hall show they'll be joined by Scottish singer Alex Ligertwood, the lead singer on Santana hits such as "All I Ever Wanted," "You Know That I Love You," "Winning" and "Hold On."

At the show Moroch urges fans to "expect the unexpected. We'll do some original stuff. We'll break out a cover of something that's just totally unlike anything that you would expect from guys that played with David Sanborn. We'll do some of Alex's stuff that he did with Santana." He adds that a variety of music the group plays keeps it interesting for the band and the fans. "I think people like when a band is flying by the seat of their pants."

As a studio musician Moroch recorded with such music icons as Madonna, David Bowie, and The Bee Gees. He says, for the most part,he didn't encounter any larger-than-life egos.

"I've been fortunate in what I've done as a studio musician. The artists and producers I've worked for have always asked my opinion and encouraged me to try things on my own. They're not locked into anything," he says. Working with Bowie was a thrill. "He's just fantastic, he's just a total gentleman and a great, great guy. I've always loved the man. I've always been a big fan of his. When you get to work with people you grew up listening to it's kind of cool. You go back to like a kid and you're like 'wow I can't believe I just recorded with David Bowie!'"

Although he enjoys playing as a sideman, Moroch says that the freedom he and his bandmates have with The Sideguys is invigorating.

"I enjoyed coming up with the guitar part that would end up on a famous artist's record, but obviously when it's your own thing we can kind of say, 'oh man let's do this tune or let's not do this tune.' The freedom here is wonderful," he says. "It's a great group of musicians and a lot of fun and definitely the fun teeters over onto the stage, we're all a bunch of knuckleheads and people can see that we're having a good time when we're up there playing."


ERIK OFGANG, The Hartford Courant