Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Sam Sherwin at R Bar, NYC 6/3/10

Sam Sherwin is a guy whose time has come. Actually, his time never went away – the southpaw guitarslinger has always had a gig, whether playing lead with someone else (most memorably with late 90s/early zeros New York noir rock legends DollHouse) or fronting his own band. But with 80s music in vogue more than it ever might have been during that decade, it’s somewhat surprising that there’s a style of music from that era that hasn’t been resurrected yet. On one level, that’s to be expected: the indie rock trendoids who worship that stuff the most are a fearful crowd and shy away from anything that wasn’t popular to begin with. But for those willing to do a little digging, the strain of powerpop that was coming out of New York in the late 70s and early 80s, with its Gotham sarcasm and just enough of a punk edge to give it a leg up on the tamer stuff coming out of other parts of the world, is overdue for a resurrection. That’s what Sam Sherwin plays.

Playing Telecaster and backed by an inspired trio of Jimmy Buffett keyboardist Pete Vitalone, Bernie Worrell sidewoman Donna McPherson on bass and Dena Tauriello on drums, Sherwin’s baritone croon was part menace and part leer, evoking Iggy Pop in his most off-center phase from the days of albums like Soldier or Party. The set mixed songs from his upcoming album Iodine Cocktails along with tracks from his previous cd Dirty Little Secrets. The second song of the night, a snide slide guitar shuffle was a perfect example. Vitalone got up from his piano and strapped on an accordion for a surprisingly direct, even wounded version of the kiss-off ballad You Got It Wrong, from Dirty Little Secrets. A new, bluesy rocker with an early 80s Stones feel possibly titled Long Time Coming could have been an outtake from Emotional Rescue; another one in a similar vein had Sherwin snarling about “licking my wounds at the scene of the crime.” They slowed down the jailhouse rocker Sittin’ on a Bench (a vivid Rikers Island narrative, probably because it’s a true story) with some ominously echoing Rhodes piano; the darkly bucolic, backbeat-driven number they followed with shifted into urban noir territory without missing a beat. They closed with the catchy powerpop anthem Get Close, a showcase for Vitalone’s majestic organ work. Watch this space for information on the upcoming album.

October 8, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Sam Sherwin at the Cutting Room, NYC 10/8/08

Southpaw guitarist Sam Sherwin and his all-girl band were a fixture of the Lower East Side scene back in the 90s; after that, he did a stint as the lead player in brilliant New York noir rockers DollHouse. Tonight at the Cutting Room, backed by a stellar band including Donna McPherson from Funkadelic on bass, Dena Toriello from Antigone Rising on drums plus an excellent keyboardist, he showed off an unexpectedly kinder, gentler side. Sherwin’s playing and writing, at least up to this point, have been imbued with a sarcastic wit bordering on bitter, unleashed rage, and while some of the older songs he played tonight had that vibe, there was also a newfound warmth and optimism in his songs. The new material from his forthcoming cd Iodine Cocktails was typically midtempo, major key, slightly Springsteenish rock that wouldn’t be out of place at just about any roadside bar from Portland (Maine) to Seattle.

 

They opened with a somewhat Stonesy number: with the organ behind him, Sherwin was able to hang back and embellish the melody rather than having to alternate between rhythm and lead as he used to do. A funny new drinking song set to a swaying country beat was a real surprise, and one of the high points of the set. Another new tune, a catchy, upbeat janglerocker featured a long, Asian-inflected piano solo out. Of the old material, the opening cut on Sherwin’s most recent cd Dirty Little Secrets (which made our top 50 albums list in 2006) was the best, deviously slurred chords on the verse building to a supremely catchy chorus. “I don’t regret a single thing I did to you,” Sherwin railed.

 

The feel was the same on a remarkably subtle, thoughtfully bluesy reworking of the jailhouse tale Sittin on a Bench (a true story: Sherwin spent a night in the Tombs after a jealous woman told the cops a fib or two). Another reworked tune, Get Close was much faster than the recorded version, but again was much terser and bluesier. They closed much as they started with another thoughtful, melodic, midtempo number. If there was anything to criticize about this show, it was that Sherwin didn’t solo as much as he used to: he’s the rare lead guitarist that you actually want to hear more of. Where he wants to go with this project is pretty much up to him: although the record labels that used to make money off this kind of stuff are either dead or close to it, he could take this act on the road pretty much anywhere and make money. Or, hell, open for Springsteen: he’s from New Jersey, why not?

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , | Leave a comment