07 October 2008

Catching up Vol. 1: May shows

Well howdy! After a nice long stretch of reviewing everything I'd seen, it looks like I haven't touched on anything from all summer long, goshdarnit. Gonna try and go back and hit on some of the stuff you didn't get to hear about on a month-by-month basis. Will try to limit myself to a paragraph (of reasonable length) or less...

Is it possible that my last review for this blog was my takedown of the Jammy's exactly 5 months ago? Let's pick it up from there.

  • The Wood Brothers @ Bowery Ballroom > Bobby Previte's New Bump @ Banjo Jim's 17 May 2008 The Wood Brothers, as you may or may not realize, are Chris Wood of MMW fame and his brother Oliver. This night they were joined by John Medeski and Kenny Wolleson as their band, which made it difficult to pass up. Even so, this music was a far cry from the sanity-melting acid jazz you may or may not expect from this grouping. This band really centers on Oliver -- his southern, folksy blues style singing and guitar playing. They opened up with the wonderfully off-kilter cover of Dylan's "Bucket of Rain" and just went from there. Oliver somehow evokes a more restrained Anders Osborne for me, he's got a shade of NOLA in his blues. Medeski & Wolleson just were along for the ride, having a blast. The crowd for this show was one of the best I've been a part of this year... it was a real party atmosphere with everyone showing a nice balance of being attuned to the music, singing along where appropriate and just getting down in approriately drunken fashion. These guys have a small but dedicated fan base who could care less who Billy Martin was. Awesome. Afterward I hustled a few blocks over to Banjo Jim's for Bobby Previte who is on the short list of hardest working musicians in NYC (Wolleson is also on this list... always the drummers). Never been in the room before, but another one of those perfectly small NYC gems on the Lower East Side. My best memory of this set (the 2nd half, I caught) was being lulled into a cozy snooze on a couch in the back while Previte and Bill Ware on vibes hypnotized me completely.
  • Rashanim @ Stanton St. Shul > Beta Popes @ Tap Bar 22 May 2008 After my previous visit to synagogue to check these guys out I felt obligated to return for their next engagement even as midweek trips started to become darn near impossible this summer... if only to ensure that they kept up the "residency" (alas, not to be!). The twist this time -- instead of an acoustic set -- was the addition of a saxophone player. I am almost never in favor of the addition of a "special guest" sax player, but that's my issue and I'll need to deal with it. This wasn't quite the sublime experience the previous month's show was and the crowd to see it wasn't much bigger if at all (my powers of persuasion over the admission-paying adult set has now officially, asymptotically reached zero). Still, there is something soul cleansing about a Rashanim show, the mix of vicious spine-tingling chops with the spirituality of the compositions mixes together in the mind like Mentos and Diet Coke. (reverse psychology)Don't go see them next time they're playing.(/rev. psych). After that it was a hopscotch over to the Knit to check out the Beta Popes. Beta Popes = Jamie Saft, Skerik and (guess who!) Bobby Previte on drums. Saft was on bass and Skerik barely even played sax as much as just made noise. In fact, the whole set was pretty much a wall of noise, hitting the limits of volume and what the human mind can tolerate. It was anti-melodic and brutally penetrating. Musical acupuncture. I took as much as I could and eventually my entire body went from some overly tense state of pure clenchitude to something that wasn't quite relaxation, but more of an out-of-body thing. The opposite of sensory-deprivation, maybe. Anyway, it was an interesting experience, I dug it for about 15 minutes and then left to catch my train. Pretty awful in a not-as-bad-as-it-might-have-been kind of way.
I'll hit you with my June outings next week.

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