Dogs In A Pile flexed home field advantage this past weekend with their now annual, two-night Happy Howlidaze celebration at the famed Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. The hometown heroes briefly welcomed harmonica player and renowned photographer/filmmaker Danny Clinch and guitarist/songwriter Anthony Krizan on Friday night before having Mihali Savoulidis (Twiddle) sit in for the entirety of the third set; Saturday saw harmonica player Sandy Mack make a guest appearance before Adrian Tramontano (Twiddle, The Breakfast, Kung Fu) joined the pack for the second set.

A jam band at heart, Dogs In A Pile draw from a wide range of influences and a diverse musical education in jazz, fusion, and classical music to keep their setlists fresh, and this weekend they bolstered their original catalog with the hyped debut of “Thomas Duncan Pt. 3”. They would also add ten new covers that ran the gamut from Steely Dan, Twiddle, Stone Temple Pilots, Blues Traveler, and Phish to The Kinks, Little Feat, the Grateful Dead, Bruce Springsteen, and The Four Seasons, not to mention a holiday offering of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.

The New Jersey natives have now played the landmark Stone Pony 13 times and have come a long way since opening for moe. and Blues Traveler there in 2019 to headlining multi-night weekend runs in ‘22 and ‘23. After an aggressive touring year saw the young pups play 139 shows in 38 states in 2023, returning home to the Jersey shore couldn’t have been sweeter as the genre-bending quintet was greeted by a ravenous Dog Pound, with theme music from The Sopranos welcoming the band over the PA.

The first of the weekend’s five sets kicked off with “Frosty”, “Can’t Wait For Tonight”, and “Look Johnny II”—all sung by guitarist Brian Murray–before the Dogs stretched “Nicolette” out to the 20-minute mark, guided by the knob-twisting wizardry of keyboard phenom Jeremy Kaplan. Still feeling it, Kaplan took lead vocals on the debut of Steely Dan’s “Home At Last” before drummer Joey Babick drove guitarist Jimmy Law to dizzying peaks on the set-closing “Way To Be”.

“Ugly Song” got the second set underway. Kaplan then locked in with Berklee College of Music compatriot Sam Lucid on a dreamy instrumental bass and keys groove that would usher in the hard-hitting “Tillie” before a smooth segue into “It Gets Better” saw consecutive songs with type-II jams. “Go Set” kept the energy of the crowded club at a fever pitch before the first of the weekend’s guests was introduced: famed rock photographer, local legend, and harmonicist Danny Clinch, who added another Dog to the Pile on “Mr. Tooker”.

Phish lyricist and Asbury resident Tom Marshall was also on hand to see Dogs In A Pile play “You Didn’t Hear It From Me”, a song he wrote and gifted to Dogs this past summer. Anthony Krizan, co-writer with Marshall, was on hand to join the fray as the peppy song peaked hard behind the three guitar jam. When Krizan’s turn was up, Mihali Savoulidis plugged into the available amp for “Trunk Rum”, the Lucid-penned fan favorite that brought the set to a wild finish while giving a sneak peak at the third-set magic that was shortly to unfold.

Dogs In A Pile toured extensively with Twiddle before the band recently went on hiatus, and evidence of both their brotherhood with Mihali and joy in creating music together was etched onto the faces of all involved during the nearly two-hour long set. The cover-heavy set kicked off with a duo of Dogs originals, “Stranger” and “Today”, the latter of which had the reggae-leaning Twiddle frontman feeling right at home amongst the pack.

“Carved Lines”, from Mihali’s solo catalog, followed before “G-Song”, the improvisational highlight of the night in a night full of them. “Syncopated Healing” showed further evidence of the crossover familiarity between Dogs and Twiddle, played by Dogs for the first time ever but sounding almost as if Mihali was standing in front of his old band. A second consecutive first-ever cover followed with the alternative rock anthem “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots.

Danny Clinch returned to the stage for Blues Traveler’s “Run Around”, teaming up with Mihali for a one-two punch of John Popper’s signature harmonica and vocals before the sextet indulged their friend with the reggae riddims of Mihali’s “Light It Up”. This was a set to remember for sure and it was marked with the ultimate set closer, an impressive first-time-played cover of Phish’s “Harry Hood” that brought the nearly 4-hour show to an emphatic conclusion.

Dogs In A Pile With Mihali – “Harry Hood” (Phish) – 12/15/23

The festivities continued on Saturday with Dogs In A Pile setting up a merch pop-up shop during the day before an early VIP set and meet-and-greet. Saturday night’s sold-out affair kicked off in earnest with “Westward” before a boisterous cover of The Kink’s “Apeman”. “Craig and Pat” and “Appleseed” followed to keep crowd energy at a fever pitch before “Samba For Sam” > “Lattice” > “Samba For Sam”. “Fenway” and “Bent Strange” closed the 90-minute first set with a pair of huge type-II jams.

Dogs In A Pile – The Stone Pony – Asbury Park, NJ – 12/16/23 – Preview

The drumming of Joey Babick had been a constant throughout the weekend’s first four sets and it was exciting to witness how the presence of drummer Adrian Tramontano pushed him to new heights in the fifth set finale. After dazzling during a set-opening run of “Charlie” >”Bubble”, a debut cover of Little Feat’s “Old Folks Boogie”, and “Spun”, the stringed and keyed members of the band cleared the stage while the two drummers performed a mind-bending collaborative drum duet that drove the room into a wild frenzy. The “Drums” > “Space” segment was followed by the long-anticipated debut of “Thomas Duncan, Pt. 3”, the sequel to fan-favorite catalog staple “Thomas Duncan, Pt. 2”. Rumors abound about the still unseen “Thomas Duncan, Pt. 1”.

The Dogs then delved into “Shakedown Street” with the aid of Sandy Mack–a New Jersey harmonicist whose local, collaborative Grateful Dead-inspired jams have been frequented by all the Dogs over the years. Another surprise guest would follow, namely, the Grinch, as DiaP indulged the holiday season with a wonderfully dramatic telling of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from the 1966 Dr. Seuss animated special. Dogs’ road manager Kieran Tooker deserves ample credit for leveling up his prior year’s appearance as a Christmas tree. A highly spirited “Let U Go” brought the set to an exuberant finish.

Following a brief encore break, fans were quick to notice that multi-talented Jeremy Kaplan had a saxophone in hand when the band returned the stage. It would all make sense as soon as the band dropped into Springsteen’s “Born To Run” and Kaplan channeled his inner Clarence Clemons while guitarist Brian Murray showed his many talents by tickling a few ivories alongside Kaplan. Lucid would then cede his Modulus bass to Murray in favor of a microphone as he took the lead on The Four Seasons’ “December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)”, appropriately changing the lyrics to, “Late December, back in ‘23.” After nearly 8 hours of music over 5 sets in just over 24 hours, the soulful burner “Say Something” from guitarist Jimmy Law brought the weekend-long festivities to a close.

Dogs In A Pile’s next show is a post-Phish party at Sony Hall on December 28. They then head north to Saratoga on December 30 before their first-ever New Year’s show on 12/31. Ticketing and tour information can be found here.

Dogs In A Pile – “Westward” – 12/15/23

[Video: Hey Tom Banjo]

Dogs In A Pile – “Apeman” – 12/15/23

[Video: Hey Tom Banjo]

Dogs In A Pile – “Home At Last” (Steely Dan) – 12/15/23

[Video: themeboudin]

Dogs In A Pile – “Way To Be” – 12/15/23

[Video: Dean Novin]

Dogs In A Pile – “Tillie” – 12/15/23

[Video: Hey Tom Banjo]

Dogs In A Pile With Anthony Krizan – “You Didn’t Hear It From Me” – 12/15/23

Dogs In A Pile With Mihali Savoulidis – “Stranger” – 12/15/23

[Video: Dean Novin]

Dogs In A Pile With Mihali Savoulidis – “Carved Lines” – 12/15/23

[Video: AbbySmiles]

Dogs In A Pile With Mihali Savoulidis – “Plush” (Stone Temple Pilots) – 12/15/23

[Video: themeboudin]

Dogs In A Pile – “Fenway” – 12/16/23

[Video: Hey Tom Banjo]

Dogs In A Pile – “Craig And Pat”, “Appleseed” – 12/16/23

[Video: Hey Tom Banjo]

Dogs In A Pile With Sandy Mack & Adrian Tramontano – “Shakedown Street” (Grateful Dead) – 12/16/23

[Video: Kady Feeney]

[Video: Kady Feeney]

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Setlist (via Dogs In A Pile | The Stone Pony | Asbury Park, NJ | 12/15/23

Set 1: Frosty, Can’t Wait for Tonight, Look Johnny II, Nicolette, Home At Last[1], Way To Be

Set 2: Ugly Song, Tillie > It Gets Better, Go Set > Mr. Tooker[2], You Didn’t Hear It From Me[3], Trunk Rum[4]

Set 3: Stranger[4], Today[4], Carved Lines[4], G Song[4], Syncopated Healing[4], Plush[5], Run-Around [2][4], Light It Up[4], Harry Hood[4]

[1] FTP, Steely Dan
[2] with Danny Clinch
[3] with Anthony Krizan
[4] with Mihali
[5] FTP, Stone Temple Pilots, with Mihali

Setlist (via Dogs In A Pile | The Stone Pony | Asbury Park, NJ | 12/16/23

Set 1: Westward, Apeman, Craig and Pat, Appleseed, Samba for Sam > Lattice > Samba for Sam, Fenway, Bent Strange

Set 2: Charlie > Bubble, Old Folks Boogie[1] > Spun > Drums > Space > Thomas Duncan pt. 3[2], Shakedown Street[3], You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Let U Go

Encore: Born to Run, Oh What A Night, Say Something

[1] FTP, Little Feat
[2] Debut
[3] with Sandy Mack

Show Notes:
Entire second set with Adrian Tramontano.