Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Slim Kings at Hill Country Barbecue + Market

Born in New York City, Michael Sackler-Berner's career could have gone in many directions. His grandfather was psychiatrist/entrepreneur/ philanthropist Arthur M. Sackler, his dad was a television and film producer, and his mother was an arts and social justice activist. His sister, however, left a beat-up guitar lying around the house, and there an 11-year-old boy found his life path. He played in bands throughout his teen years, and studied Music Technology in Montreal, Canada, where he also founded a garage rock band called Hearts of Palm. Following university, Sackler-Berner returned to New York City and began performing as a solo artist under his initials, MSB, and recorded an album. In 2011, Sackler-Berner cold-called the first drummer he ever saw in concert, Liberty DeVitto, who played with Billy Joel for 30 years, and a band was born. The Slim Kings' album, Fresh Socks, was released in 2012. The Slim Kings recently became slimmer, trimmed from a quartet to a trio consisting of Sackler-Berner, DeVitto and bassist Andy Attanasio.

At Hill Country Barbecue + Market tonight, the Slim Kings performed two different sets, so the repertoire was expansive, including new songs. The Slim Kings borrowed from classic rock in that many songs seemed to originate from a modern interpretation of blues and then added flashy guitar and hard hitting rhythm from the bass and drums. Sackler-Berner's breathy, soulful vocal style was also from an earlier era, when lyrics were clearly heard over the instruments. Each song was distinct, well crafted, and consistent in that they remained true to the band's foundational rock and roll roots. While the band continues adjusting to the power trio format, the Slim Kings still command attention and deserve a listen.

Visit the Slim Kings at