Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Mark Sinnis at Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY 5/31/09

Nashville gothic from one of its finest exponents. When Mark Sinnis isn’t playing bass and fronting dark, ferocious rockers Ninth House, he does this scaled-down acoustic project, sometimes backed by revolving cast of A-list characters from the New York underground scene. This time out it was just the powerful baritone singer on acoustic guitar, backed by Ninth House keyboardist Matt Dundas. Since the Social Distortion-inflected Aerosol and the intro to the Cure-influenced Quiet Change both start as blazing rockers when he plays them with Ninth House, Sinnis backed off the mic to maintain the intimate vibe rather than assaulting everyone with punk rock in a small space.

The rest of the show was a clinic in subtle inflection. Sinnis may be a big belter in his own band, but in a quiet setting he shows off the kind of phrasing that you usually only see in jazz singers. Or in Johnny Cash, an obvious influence. An audience member who’d been at Ninth House’s previous show a couple of weeks ago at Don Pedro’s remarked that hearing his vocals there, “to a woman, was like an hour of chocolate.” This was more like Grand Marnier. The new, minor-key Fifteen Miles to Hell’s Gate, a parable about the death of New York by gentrification, was all barely restrained wrath; the love song A Southern Tale (title track to his new album, recently reviewed here) was exactly the opposite. In between the two extremes the two players did a new Louvin Brothers style country gospel number possible titled Death’s Your Friend that met with considerable nervous laughter, an organ-fueled take of St. James Infirmary and closed with a stripped-down cover of Ghost Riders in the Sky, Sinnis’s voice sailing over funereal organ again. The crowd wouldn’t let them get away without an encore, so they played a terse version of the big Ninth House drunk-driving anthem Follow the Line. Ninth House play Hank’s on June 12 at 11; Sinnis’ next acoustic show is July 12 at Sidewalk at 9.

June 3, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Concert Review: Lenny Molotov at Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY 4/17/09

Recently we tagged Will Scott’s Wednesday residency at 68 Jay St. Bar in Dumbo as the best weekly blues show in town, but there’s another player that blues fans should keep their eye on and that’s Lenny Molotov. While Scott is taking Mississippi hill country blues (think R.L. Burnside or T-Model Ford) to new and interesting places, Molotov is doing the same with delta blues and the kind of sophisticated, jazzy stuff Josh White or Charles Brown were doing in the 40s and early 50s. Friday night with his quartet he unveiled a whole slew of new material edging closer and closer toward jazz as so many virtuoso guitarists do once they’ve mastered blues as Molotov has. Playing acoustic and backed by JD Wood on standup bass, Jake Engel on chromatic harp and Ray Sapirstein on trumpet, Molotov’s virtuosic playing and imaginative melodies vividly evoked a raucous speakeasy milieu, with lyrics exploring eras from Prohibition to the here-and-now.

 

“Where’s my capo?” Molotov wondered aloud.

 

“It’s on your headstock,” an audience member reminded him.

 

“I like to use two. It never hurts to be too careful,” Molotov slyly explained as he and the band launched into a snazzy, updated version of Brother Can You Spare a Dime:

 

I used to work at Goldman Sachs

And drank the finest wine

Now I sit around smoking crack

Brother can you spare a dime?

 

Molotov is a boxing fan, and a couple of the newer, more polished numbers worked that territory. The most recent one, he said, was inspired by a Sonny Liston suggestion that the ideal boxing song would feature “soul guitar, harmonica and trumpet,” and this one snidely addressed mob corruption in the sweet science, trumpet and harp indulging in a playful call-and-response that built as it went along. The last number built to dixieland pandemonium with the harp and the trumpet going full-tilt. Molotov’s gotten plenty of ink here, because he’s good, and because his new material is so strong, you’ll no doubt be hearing more about him here in the future. Watch this space for upcoming NYC dates.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Kotorino at Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn NY 4/13/09

“It’s like they’re all Sufjahn Stevens,” a seemingly part-time band member (he played guitar and sang on a handful of songs) remarked. He was joking, of course. Other than the fact that pretty much everybody in Kotorino plays several instruments, they have about as much in common with Sufjahn Stevens as they do with Miley Cyrus. Alternately playful, haunting, phantasmagorical and carnivalesque, they came across as a cross between El Radio Fantastique and the badly missed Dimestore Dance Ensemble. In the course of just under an hour, the guitarist moved to harmonium, then banjo, then acoustic bass guitar, back to banjo and ended up on the harmonium. The violinist doubled on acoustic bass guitar and then acoustic guitar, taking a turn on lead vocals with a fetchingly ragtime-inflected lament, girl meets boy, girl loses boy and then wonders what to do next. The harmonium player doubled on accordion, the trumpeter switching to acoustic guitar for a song toward the end. Only the drummer stayed in one place, which was probably a good thing because somebody had to hold things together.

 

They started slow, swaying and off-kilter, like Dimestore’s tongue-in-cheek, Satie-esque swing but with more going on. Their bouncy, oldtimey songs have the same jazzy, saloony vibe as much of Tom Waits but without any of the stereotypical, over-the-top Waitsisms that so many imitators find impossible to resist (or replicate, for that matter). A jaunty, minor-key number featuring the violinist on bass and a soaring trumpet solo railed against “the way it has to be.” The next song began with an amusing and absolutely spot-on dub reggae rhythm, building to a dark, central European-inflected ballad that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Melomane songbook. They wound up the set with a rustic, upbeat yet ominous country banjo song – “There’s a sky in my eye, it’s on fire,” the frontman sang nonchalantly – and a harmonium tune in French which seemed to be an original. What an unexpectedly fun way to spend a drab Monday night. Kotorino is back at Pete’s for the next two Mondays, April 20 and 27, winding up their residency there: if you’re in the neighborhood, you could do an awful lot worse.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment