Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Roulette Sisters at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 6/18/07

A deliriously fun, hot, sweaty show. It was late on a Monday night, but the place was packed. The crowd sang along, and when they weren’t singing, they were laughing at all the subtle and not-so-subtle double entendres the band was harmonizing on. Because (other than great musicianship and gorgeous 4-part harmonies and stone cold authentic acoustic blues playing), sex is what the Roulette Sisters are all about. Lou Pearlman couldn’t have come up with a better marketing concept: four attractive women singing innuendo-laden oldtime music – an impressively wide-ranging mix of blues, country and 1920s/30s pop – playing their own instruments, singing beautifully and writing a lot of their own material. They opened with Coney Island Washboard: guitarist Mamie Minch explained how it was an instrumental from the early 20s given lyrics by a popular pop group, the Mills Brothers, about ten years later. Lead guitarist Meg Reichardt (also of les Chauds Lapins) added a typically suggestive postscript, telling the audience about a co-worker who was walking around the office all day wearing something akin to the “brand new suit of easy breezes” in the song’s chorus. A little later they did another original, inspired by the Carter Family, that wouldn’t be out of place on the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack.

Minch had just asked her bandmates whether they should do a pretty song or a dirty song when she was suddenly interrupted. “Fuck!” She’d just gotten a jolt of electric current from her mic. Her bandmates grinned at each other, and the question was answered: they launched into the hokum blues classic Keep on Churnin’:

Keep on churning til the butter comes
Keep on pumping, let the butter flow
Wipe off the paddle and churn some more

The crowd roared for another in the same vein, so they obliged, with heir most popular original, Hottest Girl in Town. The song is a hoot: each band member takes a verse laden with Freudian imagery, some verging on X-rated, detailing how their boyfriends like to please them. Viola player Karen Waltuch, who played incisive, somewhat dark solos all night long, took her most intricate one of the evening after her verse and the crowd loved it.

Then was Reichardt’s turn to bring the house down with an outtake from Dolly Parton’s first album, a deliciously righteous tale of a jilted woman wanting to get even with the woman who married her man: “I feel like tying dynamite to her side of the car.” After that, Minch delivered an especially sly version of the Bessie Smith hit Sugar in My Bowl.

The excellent Al Duvall – who’s quite the master of thinly veiled dirty lyrics himself – accompanied them on banjo on their last four songs, ending with a brand-new composition about a sheet music plugger (plugger: get it?) which Minch sang off a lyric sheet. She began the song as a talking blues but by the end she’d written a vocal melody and had it down cold.

You heard it here first: this band is going places. Our predecessor e-zine picked their cd Nerve Medicine as best debut album of 2006. Good to see that prediction come true, with this fantastic band getting some real momentum.

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June 19, 2007 - Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. […] 3rd, 2007 · No Comments Mon Sept 3 sultry Roulette Sisters frontwoman/guitarist Mamie Minch shares a bill with another fine picker, Jan Bell and others doing […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar 9/3-15/07 « Lucid Culture | September 3, 2007 | Reply

  2. […] Thurs Oct 18 the Roulette Sisters, their guitars and viola and gorgeous harmonies and sly innuendo-laden old blues songs are back at […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar 10/18-11/7/07 « Lucid Culture | October 18, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] Thurs Oct 25 the Roulette Sisters finish their October residency at Pete’s, 9 […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar 10/25-11/15/07 « Lucid Culture | October 23, 2007 | Reply

  4. […] this week was one of familiar faces, none of them the least bit stale. Went to the Roulette Sisters a week ago at Barbes. Unsurprisingly the place was packed: this band has a huge following, and […]

    Pingback by Some Usual Suspects You Might Have Missed « Lucid Culture | November 10, 2007 | Reply

  5. […] ROULETTE SISTERS At Barbes 6/18/07 https://lucidculture.wordpress.com/2007/06/19/concert-review-the-roulette-sisters-at-barbes-61807/ At Barbes 11/3/07 […]

    Pingback by Index « Lucid Culture | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  6. Never heard of them, but certainly interested since I stumbled on this site.

    Comment by Ryan G | October 23, 2008 | Reply

  7. Thanks for sharing this information. Regards.

    Comment by roulette | July 31, 2009 | Reply


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