Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Second Fiddles at Rodeo Bar, NYC 1/27/09

Oldtimey music doesn’t get much better than this. Along with the 4th St. Nite Owls, Mamie Minch and the Moonlighters, the Second Fiddles are equally good at rousing, pre-1930 blues, country and ragtime tunes, as they reminded at Rodeo Bar last night. With guitar, mandolin, upright bass, harmonica and piano, they bordered on psychedelic: although most of their songs feature solo turns from various members, the interplay between the instruments was so intricate that at times it was hard to keep track of who was playing what. Much of their first set featured guest resonator guitarist/vocalist Brian Kramer, who’s playing solo at Caffe Vivaldi tonight 1/28 and tomorrow 1/29 at 8 PM.

 

Their version of Sittin on Top of the World was laid-back and rustic in the style of the Mississippi Sheiks rather than any Chicago blues version. A similarly warm, upbeat, sparse number sounded like an early prototype of Sweet Little Angel, one that B.B. King might have heard and said to himself, hmmm…. They also ran through an upbeat bottleneck blues tune, a boogie, an Appalachian-inflected song that could have been a Tin Pan Alley ragtime hit, and a bouncy Big Bill Broonzy cover. Everybody in the band got a solo turn; the star of the night was the piano player, who kicked out some warmly crescendoing blues along with some tastefully minimalist honkytonk playing. To the club’s credit, the sound was terrific: you could hear everybody, something that can’t always be said for a band that relies on a lot of mics to amplify their acoustic instruments. They’re back at the Rodeo on 2/24 at 10:30ish.

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January 28, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review: Skye Steele at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 1/27/09

“I write too many slow songs,” violinist Skye Steele said with a wry grin. Wrong. What this guy absolutely excels at is slow songs. Slow, thoughtful, meditative instrumentals, full of beautiful little intricacies, often absolutely mesmerizing: you can get completely lost in this stuff. Last night at Barbes Steele was backed by an excellent band featuring upright bass, electric guitar and reed player Harel Shachal alternating between clarinet and sax. Most of what Steele writes has a dark, plaintive, hypnotic edge: he goes for atmosphere over ostentation every time, and absolutely nails it. You could call what he writes jazz, although it also embodies elements of classical and Balkan music, with glimpses of rock and even Afro-pop peeking in and showing their faces from time to time.

 

The material they played early in the set had a bracing, big-sky Americana feel in the same vein as Jenny Scheinman’s collaborations with Bill Frisell. A little later in the set, on a far eerier number, Shachal’s clarinet went deep into the lower registers for an ominously fluttery Balkan feel. A handful of their songs were suites, one of them facing off fluid, swoopingly legato bass against the noisy duel of the violin and clarinet; another featured a languidly thoughtful yet tensely wary solo from the guitar. Steele was clearly throwing songs at these guys that at least one of them had never played before, but the group was game and rose to the occasion, taking the old Scottish folksong Black is the Color off into the Great Plains with a wintry, windswept ambience. On their last number, another suite, Steele wound up a tightly compelling passage by playing major over minor for a few bars, adding an especially macabre edge. Steele’s next performance is a quintet show on Feb 5 at le Poisson Rouge on a bill with with Shachal’s excellent, haunting Middle Eastern/Balkan group Anistar.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Song of the Day 1/28/09

Every day, our top 666 songs of alltime countdown gets one step closer to #1. Wednesday’s is #546:

The Larval Organs – Joyless Now

The Larval Organs were arguably New York songwriter Daniel Bernstein AKA Cockroach’s best project to date, a ferociously lyrical punk/metal outfit that played around circa 2002-04 and put out one classic ep, Posthumous. This is one of their more melodic numbers with a characteristically brilliant, desperate lyric, “with a heartache the size of a great lake.” Unreleased and unavailable at the usual sites, although there are supposedly bootleg versions kicking around – if you find one, let us know!

January 28, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , | 4 Comments