The first thing you need to know about the local band Offtrax is that they take rock music seriously, though not quite as seriously as a heart attack. Several members of the band, after all, are cardiologists and surgeons, including lead singer and guitarist Ted Friehling, who apparently revels in pop, rock and funk music when he isn't seeing patients.
Along with fellow vocalist Stacey Ann Cohen, who's drawn to the folksier side of the rock equation and sounds a lot like Stevie Nicks on the acoustic ballad "Step Off The Edge," Freihling is largely responsible for making certain the band's debut album is, well, a cut above the average.
After getting off to a wobbly start with "Lonely Girl," a retro rock track that sounds more affected than affecting, the band settles into a series of agreeable grooves carved out by rhythm guitarist Aldo Esposito, bassist Bryan Raybuck, keyboardist Al Del Negro and drummer Glenn Shuster. Horns are added to "Funky Blues," which generates a performance worthy of the tune's title, while Cohen's mystical lyrics and Friehling's romantic balladry keep things from getting a bit too loose. No new ground is broken, but throughout "Too Long" Offtrax has no difficulty demonstrating the joy and satisfaction that a little moonlighting can bring.
Appearing Saturday at Vienna's Grille. Proceeds to benefit the Pediatric Heart Unit at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. To hear a free Sound Bite from Offtrax, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8107. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)