Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: The Jack Grace Band at Rodeo Bar, NYC 5/5/10

The first thing you notice when you see the Jack Grace Band up close is what a well-oiled machine they are – in both senses of the word. OK, maybe not everyone onstage last night was half in the bag, but they’d been on close to a 36-hour tear, nonstop, with appearances on the WPIX morning show and then a live performance on satellite radio, so with a long Cinco de Mayo evening ahead of them at Rodeo Bar, the tequila was flowing and a lot of it had made it to the stage by the time they started playing. The Jack Grace Band’s new album Drinking Songs for Lovers is just out, so ultimately it all made sense. “Everything seems so simple after three martinis” is Grace’s mantra, and the band played that song, a careening version of The Lonesome Entertainer, on album a noir-ish blues shuffle a la Tom Waits but this time out it was more Grateful Dead, except with a brief interlude into a perfectly executed, funky excerpt from Kurtis Blow’s The Breaks. Tequila, an older song from Jack Grace’s old jam band Steak, swung mightily along on a sunbaked minor-key hook, part bossa nova, part hallucinatory Tex-Mex anthem.

Jack [scrunching his face into a tortured scowl]: Would you rather be dead?
Bass player Daria Grace: [completely deadpan]: No.

It’s kind of sweet how he gives his wife the best of the punch lines every time. They’d started, appropriately, with Morning Margaritas, the twangy, retro 60s country song that opens the album, everybody from the horn section to the pedal steel player stepping out, boisterous and tequila-fueled, so the sound guy could get the levels right. Daria swooped and dove on her gorgeous hollowbody bass on a more 70s, outlaw country style tune from the album, True Tonight. They jammed on Jambalaya, took a stab at the Mexican Hat Dance (Jack wanted to keep going but the band wouldn’t let him), then piano player Bill Malchow sang one. At the end, Jack put his guitar down and the piano and rhythm section playing a pretty generic power ballad melody. Which morphed into the early 70s Neil Diamond hit I Am, I Said. Jack got up on a chair, pondered the highly vandalized stuffed bison head coming out of the wall at the edge of the stage and then decided against doing something to it (that’s a prop for another song of his). Then when he got to the line in the song where no one heard him, not even the chair, he got off the chair and raised it high. And then went into the audience, caught a table full of diners completely off guard, sat down with them and then serenaded them. With the chair. Meanwhile, the band didn’t blink an eyelash. Pretty punk rock for a country band. And that was just the first set.

The Jack Grace Band continues to celebrate the release of the new album with shows at Hill Country tonight at 9, Barbes at 10 tomorrow (Friday the 7th), and a doublebill with the equally devious Luther Wright and the Wrongs at the Rodeo on the 11th.

May 6, 2010 Posted by | concert, country music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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