Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Maynard & the Musties at Spikehill, 8/23/08

Recording with Ryan Adams has really whipped this band into shape. Not that they weren’t a lot of fun beforehand, but they’re a thousand times more focused. The rock songs are rock songs; the country is straight-up country without the crazy jamming or the genre-blending. Which was actually a lot of fun when they did it, but Maynard & the Musties definitely don’t sound anything like the Grateful Dead anymore. Last night at Spikehill they blazed through a set whose tightness was all the more impressive considering that they were playing with a new drummer, unrehearsed. But David Gould is a topnotch jazz player, so this was probably easy for him, having a lot of fun playing a backbeat on the cymbals from time to time. Bassist Dennis Shealy has also come up with some gorgeously intricate parts for most of these songs, essentially filling the role of second lead guitarist.

 

They’ve made their stray dog story Rocky & Bessie a lot darker, with a spooky horror-movie intro that became a showcase for violinist Naa Koshie Mills, and at the end she brought its gallows humor to a vivid, quintessentially urban crescendo. The straight-up rocker It’s Been a Great Life was better than ever, frontman Joe Maynard cataloging every potential apocalyptic scenario in his casual Nashville drawl. Another rock song along a similar theme, perhaps titled It’s Warm Outside was as blackly humorous as it could have been: wait til they bring that one out next summer. Maynard also gave the band a break as he and Mills resurrected what might be his best song, Elvis Museum, a bizarre, somewhat disturbing tale about one particular woman’s low-budget shrine to the King. And then the scene shifts to an equally sketchy milieu, a homeless encampment out behind the Broadway theatres where bums wait with bated breath for their favorite celebrities to appear so they can add to the autograph collection (never mind finding a place to sleep for the night). It’s been awhile since he played this one live, and since they’d just recorded it with Adams, it made sense to bring it back. Keep your eyes on this ramshackle crew of throwback country outlaws: they’re really onto something.

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September 24, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

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