Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Lenny Molotov at Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY 11/21/08

Both a throwback and a pioneer, Lenny Molotov is perhaps best known as a brilliant guitarist equally adept at rock (he’s been noir indie rock siren Randi Russo’s lead player for a few years) and delta blues, but he’s just as good a songwriter. Last night at Pete’s he and his excellent band blazed through a beautifully rustic, bluesy set featuring a lot of his best material. In something of the same vein as Richard Thompson, Molotov sets acerbic contemporary lyrics to oldtimey melodies embellished with often sensationally incisive fingerpicked guitar as well as other instruments. Tonight he had his usual backing crew of JD Wood on upright bass and Jake Engel on chromatic harp as well as Ray Saperstein guesting on trumpet.

 

They opened with a bitter, cynical real-life blues story chronicling the ever-increasing difficulty in being an outlaw. The song’s protagonist, a kid from the Brookyn projects, goes out to buy some weed, ends up shooting the undercover cop who was trying to bust him, runs into trouble at every turn and eventually ends up shooting himself in his girlfriend’s project apartment. It’s a vividly accurate commentary on what passes for law and order here these days. Engel punctuated the song with an eerie solo straight out of the Little Walter playbook.

 

Faded Label Blues, a tribute to Jelly Roll Morton was an aptly bleak chronicle of the great jazz pioneer’s decline and fall featuring some gorgeously melodic bass work from Wood. A new blues tune, perhaps titled I Ain’t Your Savior Anymore was a tongue-in-cheek, exasperated chronicle about giving up on a relationship with a woman with particularly crazy needs. “That was the most romantic song I ever heard in my life,” one enthusiastic woman in the crowd exclaimed after the quartet had run through a bittersweet version of Vida Blue, Molotov using the turbulent career of the once-unhittable lefthanded pitcher as a metaphor for his own woes. Then they reverted to minor-key blues mode with nice solos around the horn on another new tune, a Dylanesque number maybe called I See Your Name, Molotov at his characteristically sardonic best: “They’ve got you like a painting at the Met, hung up and framed.”

 

The show closed with a big crowd-pleaser, Ceiling Fan, another Dylanesque tune from Molotov’s cd Luminous Blues which namechecks both Henry Miller and Anais Nin, Molotov ripping into an evilly slinky snakecharmer solo mid-song. The crowd wanted more, but the next band’s equipment was overflowing the corridor connecting the bar and the smoking area outside, so Molotov graciously called it a night.

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November 22, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , , , ,

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