Lucid Culture


Mamie Minch at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 5/10/08

The former Roulette Sisters frontwoman proved as funny and alluring as a solo act as she was in her sadly missed all-female oldtimey quartet. The rest of the Roulette Sisters are all off doing their own projects (violist Karen Waltuch is a highly regarded avant-garde composer; washboard player Megan Burleyson continues in her husband Dale’s excellent barrelhouse blues band the 4th Street Nite Owls; lead guitarist Meg Reichhardt joined forces with Kurt Hoffman in the lush, romantic Les Chauds Lapins), so it’s fallen to Minch to keep the rustic side of the band going. Last night, effortlessly fingerpicking her vintage steel guitar and accompanied by excellent bassist Andy Cotton (whose terse, thoughtful solos were every bit as captivating as Minch was), she ran through a mix of classic covers as well as originals. “I’ve decided that I write antique songs,” she told the crowd matter-of-factly, an observation that was right on the money. What was most readily apparent about this show was what a good songwriter Minch is, and probably always was, because her earliest songs, on the now out-of-print debut ep she put out back in 2002 when she was still in college were a good barometer of where she would be tonight. Like Bliss Blood, Al Duvall and her other fellow musicians on the New York oldtimey scene, the former Roulette Sisters frontwoman’s originals are indistinguishable from her covers in the sense that they’re period-perfect: Minch not only sounds like she was born eighty years too late, she also looks the part, with her hair in that flapper bob and her antique, ankle-length dress. She didn’t do Georgia Boys (the best song on her first ep) but she did everything else, including a brand-new, gorgeous minor key number that she introduced as a gospel song but really wasn’t.


Several of the other originals were taken from her soon-to-be-released full-length debut Razorburn Blues, (the cd release show is May 27 at Union Hall): highlights were the title track, an entertainingly breathless catalog of indignities, and the gorgeous, 6/8 country song Astroland Tower, a vividly scary account of the old Coney Island amusement park narrated by a woman who just wants to get away from it all. It’s Minch’s Wall of Death, and her casual delivery, singing off-mic as she did all night in the intimate space here, only made the song’s dark undercurrent stronger. Released from the confines of being in a band, Minch has seized the opportunity to diversify her writing while remaining strikingly and charmingly true to the oldtime influences that define her sound.

May 11, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

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