Sunday, December 30, 2018

Handsome Dick Manitoba & the Wanderers at the Bowery Electric

Handsome Dick Manitoba
Is a comeback possible for a rocker whose history has gone so wrong so many times? Bronx-born Richard Blum, better known as Handsome Dick Manitoba, started a music career in 1973 as a roadie for the Dictators, a seminal punk rock band inspired by the Detroit rock style of the MC5 and the Stooges. He became the band's lead singer in 1975, but in 1981, after three albums, the main songwriters left. In 1986, Manitoba along with some former Dictators formed Wild Kingdom, released a 1990 album as Manitoba's Wild Kingdom, and then reformed as the Dictators in 1991. From 2004 to 2018, Manitoba hosted The Handsome Dick Manitoba Radio Program, and sporadically from 2005 to 2012, Manitoba fronted the reformed MC5. In 2012, he led a new band, Manitoba, which in 2013 became the Dictators NYC. In 2017, the band name reverted to Manitoba due to legal threats by ex-Dictators. In 2018, Manitoba was imprisoned on domestic violence charges, he was fired from his radio post for insensitive and politically incorrect rants, a rift developed between him and his most recent Dictators line-up, and his stake in Manitoba's, the East Village bar he co-owns, has an uncertain future. Handsome Dick Manitoba‘s first solo album, Born in the Bronx, is pending release and he is hoping to launch a podcast series. Is there a road to success when so many bridges have been burned?

If anything, Handsome Dick Manitoba has proven to be a survivor. At the Bowery Electric tonight, Manitoba performed with a solid band of pickup musicians whose names he did not remember: guitarists Matt Langone (the Hipps Pipps, Gotham Rockets) and Mike Dudolevitch (the Nuclears), bassist Mike Dee (the Carvels NYC, the Thrill Sergeants), and drummer Joe Vincent (Gotham Rockets). Together, they played songs from throughout Manitoba's catalog plus songs from his projected release. Known for his larger than life personality and lengthy off-the-cuff rambling between songs, the new band held back the reigns by starting a song if Manitoba spoke too long. Between songs, Manitoba perhaps over-shared some of his recent personal struggles, but interestingly framed them in an amusing or victorious light, and he sang with bursting energy while the band rocked. It may take a while for many of the locals to forgive Manitoba for some of his massive errors of late, but he has solid new songs and is a thoroughly enthralling entertainer, so in time a comeback very well may be possible.

Setlist:
  1. (I Live for) Cars and Girls (The Dictators song)
  2. The Perfect High (Manitoba's Wild Kingdom song)
  3. The Party Starts Now (Manitoba's Wild Kingdom song)
  4. Supply and Demand (The Dictators NYC song)
  5. Baby Let's Twist (The Dictators song)
  6. Eve of Destruction (Barry McGuire cover)
  7. Callie May
  8. Teenage Head (Flamin' Groovies cover)
  9. The Soul Punk King of New York City
  10. New York, New York (Manitoba's Wild Kingdom song)
  11. Stay with Me (The Dictators song)
  12. Faster and Louder (The Dictators song)
  13. Who Will Save Rock and Roll (The Dictators song)
  14. California Sun (Joe Jones cover)
  15. Kick Out the Jams (MC5 cover)

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Little Lesley & the Bloodshots at Otto's Shrunken Head

Lesley Swift is a farmer’s daughter from upstate New York who began playing piano and singing old-time country songs in backwoods bars at age eight. She moved on to guitar, wrote songs and played in traditional bands until she met her guitar-playing future husband, Brian Swift, in Nevada. He turned her on to rockabilly, she moved to upright bass, they relocated to New York City, and together formed a roots-rockabilly trio called the Bloodshots in 2012. Over the past two years, the Swifts relocated to Greenville, South Carolina, and the band personnel has been reworked without the hubby, who is pursuing other projects. Lesley reverted back to guitar, and the band has become a quartet renamed Little Lesley & the Bloodshots. The band's second and most recent album, Heartbeat, was released February 9, 2018.

Little Lesley & the Bloodshots returned to Otto's Shrunken Head tonight to perform at Phantom Creep Radio's monthly Midnite Monster Hop. This time, the band featured Swift on vocals and acoustic guitar, Long-Island guitarist Johnny Cola, New Jersey bassist Jeff Feinberg, and New England drummer Jeremy Kroger. The new line-up maintained the Bloodshots tradition of smart and sassy rockabilly with a high-energy show. Whether or not it was intentional, the lighting was particularly bright on Swift and dark on the rest of the band, which emphasized Swift's role as an accomplished singer/songwriter with a gift for twangy rock compositions. Though never in the spotlight, Cola in the background ripped brilliantly on reverb-soaked rockabilly licks. Concluding a fine set, Little Lesley had a treat for the band's followers; Brian Swift was in the audience and so she invited him to come on stage and rock the guitar with his wild playing for the final songs. Welcome home, Little Lesley & the Bloodshots!

Visit Little Lesley & the Bloodshots at www.thebloodshots.com.

Gov't Mule at the Beacon Theatre

Warren Haynes (left) and Jimmy Vivino
Born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina, Warren Haynes began playing guitar at age 12. In 1980, at age 20, he joined David Allan Coe's band for four years. Shortly after, Haynes worked with the Nighthawks, and began working with Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band in 1987. In 1989, The Allman Brothers Band reunited, and Betts recruited Haynes to join the band. In 1994, Haynes formed Gov't Mule (pronounced Government Mule) as a side project during breaks from the Allman Brothers Band. Haynes left the Allman Brothers Band in 1997 to focus solely on the side project, but in 1999 joined Phil Lesh and Friends for three years and also rejoined the Allman Brothers Band from 2000 to the band's breakup in 2014. Gov't Mule presently consists of Haynes, keyboardist Danny Louis, bassist Jorgen Carlsson, and drummer Matt Abts. The band released its 10th and most recent studio album, Revolution Come… Revolution Go, on June 9, 2017, although since then nearly every concert that Gov't Mule has played was recorded and sold online.

Gov't Mule brought its 20th anniversary tour to the Beacon Theatre for two nights, where the band typically plays on and before New Year's Eve. The band performed old and new songs and a few covers, but it hardly mattered what song was being performed. Haynes sang sharply with bluesy gusto, but these brief lyrical structures largely proved to be simply launching pads for Haynes to wail on extended guitar solos and for the band to flesh out the jams. The sets largely pivoted on numerous hard riffing songs, but occasionally a sweeter, softer jam would land the plane, a fleeting reprieve while preparing for another high flying takeoff. Improvisational virtuosity fueled the performance, and local musicians Danny Draher, Oz Noy, Jimmy Vivino, and Paul Ill added to the fire by jamming with Gov't Mule at different times during the night. The second set included the band's recent single, "Stone Cold Rage," inspired by the current political climate. Gov't Mule followed that song on a lighter note with "Thorazine Shuffle," featuring the Thorazine Shuffle Dancers, women from the audience who were invited to dance at stage right. Showing the band's influences, the night ended with a cover of Derek & the Dominos' "Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad." Had Derek & the Dominos not split in 1971, the band might have come to sound like Gov't Mule today.

Visit Gov't Mule at www.mule.net.

Setlist
Set 1:
  1. World Boss
  2. Lola, Leave Your Light On > Mr. High & Mighty
  3. Mr. Man (with Mule tease)
  4. Pressure Under Fire
  5. Slackjaw Jezebel
  6. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Duke Ellington cover, with Danny Draher)
  7. Funny Little Tragedy [with teases of The Bed's Too Big Without You (The Police cover), Runnin' Down a Dream (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers cover), and Message in a Bottle (The Police cover)]
Set 2:
  1. Larger Than Life
  2. Thorns of Life
  3. No Need to Suffer
  4. Unblow Your Horn
  5. Red Baron (Billy Cobham cover, with Oz Noy)
  6. Stone Cold Rage
  7. Thorazine Shuffle (with the Thorazine Shuffle Dancers)
Encore:
  1. Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad (Derek & the Dominos cover, with Jimmy Vivino & Paul Ill)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Of Clocks and Clouds at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2

Born and bred in Brooklyn, Joe Salgo began teaching himself to play guitar at age 12. During his high school years, he played in his first band, the punk rocking Wastebaskets. While playing in bands after college, he began exploring with electronic sounds and began writing songs for what would become Of Clocks and Clouds with drummer Ross Procaccio in 2013. The band presently also includes bassist Max Devlin and keyboardist Dylan DeFeo. The band's second and most recent album is 2016's Better Off.

As a psychedelic electronic jam band, Of Clocks and Clouds is an adept name for this quartet. Performing a late-night Phish post-party tonight at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, Of Clocks and Clouds' steady grooves ticked with precision, yet the jazzy improvisations were atmospheric jams. Salgo sang lyrics to frame several of the compositions, but large portions of each song were devoted to guitar-wailing and jamtronica-sailing interludes. Some songs were more melodic, other strived for a more high-tech sound, and a lot of it sounded like jazz fusion with a hook. The musicians were very present to the moment, giving the impression that no two Of Clocks and Clouds performances would ever be exactly the same. Of Clocks and Clouds has gained a jam band audience, but the music is far more than that.

Visit Of Clocks and Clouds at www.ofclocksandclouds.com.

Phish at Madison Square Garden

Trey Anastasio
Phish formed as Blackwood Convention in 1983 by four college students in Burlington, Vermont, but the band initially had a rocky start. After only a couple of shows, guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio was suspended from school following a prank he had pulled with a friend, putting the band on hiatus for about a year. During the suspension, Anastasio returned to his hometown of Princeton, New Jersey, and wrote songs. He returned to Burlington in late 1984 and resumed playing with Blackwood Convention, soon renamed Phish. The jam band's regional quickly spread throughout New England, eventually going global, by word of mouth, the exchange of live recordings, and sales of over 8 million albums and DVDs. The current line-up—Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon, drummer Jon Fishman, and keyboardist Page McConnell—performed together for 15 years before going on hiatus in 2000. The band resumed touring in 2002, disbanded in 2004, and reunited in 2009. The band's 16th and most recent studio album is 2016's Big Boat.

Bigger than Phish's return to Madison Square Garden tonight (the band's 57th concert there, and the first in a series of four that concludes on New Year's Eve) was the fan culture that absorbed more than listened to the music. Moments of improvisational greatness were often followed by extended shoegaze non-events, and yet the sea of swaying bodies throughout the arena never missed a beat. When the stage lights brightened, the cheering soared and glow sticks sailed through the air. The set consisted of mostly songs from the 1990s, allowing for fresh jams to fill the extensive spaces between lyrics. The first set was noticeably mellower than the second, which peaked several times on high-energy summits. The band played 21 songs over the course of three hours, and with a late start and an intermission, the happy audience left about midnight, many ready to return for more the following three nights.

Visit Phish at www.phish.com.

Setlist
Set 1:
  1. We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains
  2. Martian Monster
  3. Axilla > Free
  4. The Wedge
  5. Meat
  6. Ghost > Sparkle
  7. If I Could
  8. Maze
  9. Walls of the Cave
Set 2:
  1. Set Your Soul Free  (Trey Anastasio song)> Swept Away > Steep
  2. The Final Hurrah
  3. Fuego > Shade > Bathtub Gin (with snippet of The Little Drummer Boy) > Possum
Encore:
  1. Bouncing around the Room
  2. Slave to the Traffic Light

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sally Can't Dance: Holiday Tribute to the Ramones at the Bowery Electric


Sally Can't Dance is a recurring late night party at the Bowery Electric where underground New York rockers past and present pay tribute to olden-day punk rock bands and the punk rock era. The most recent event, held on December 27, 2018, was a tribute to the Ramones, with 18 local rockers covering 24 Ramones songs. Previous parties have paid tribute to Talking Heads, Lou Reed, the New York Dolls, and the Cramps.

Michael T. of Michael T. & the Vanities was the master of ceremonies and sang the opening song. Jessie Malin, Walter Lure of Walter Lure & the Waldos and Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers, Mickey Leigh of the Rattlers, Alexander Orange Drink of the So So Glos, Miss Guy of the Toilet Boys, Paul Bearer of Sheer Terror, Mick Stitch of LES Stitches, Gordon Lawrence of Beechwood, Cristoph of Crazy & the Brains, Mikey Smokes of the Newborns, Lynne Von Pang of the Carvels NYC, Jill Fiore of the Lovely, Johnny Pisano of Punk Rock Pizzeria, Steve Krebs of Krebs & the Maynard G's and the Skelekasters, Dina Regine, Bosco Delrey, and Tall Juan sang Ramones songs. The house band consisted of guitarist Walter Stack, bassist Johnny Pisano and drummer Michael Wildwood.
Michael T.
Gordon Lawrence
Mikey Smokes
Bosco Delrey
Steven Krebs
Jill Fiore
Jesse Malin
Lynne Von Pang
Alexander Orange Drink
Johnny Pisano
Dina Regine
Tall Juan
Walter Lure
Christoph
Paul Bearer
Mick Stitch
Miss Guy
Mickey Leigh


Sirsy at the Bitter End

Sirsy started as a rock quartet in 2000 in Albany, New York. In short time, Sirsy's ranks whittled to the duo of vocalist/drummer Melanie Krahmer and guitarist Rich Libutti, who would eventually marry. The name Sirsy came from a childhood nickname of Krahmer, whose younger sister had difficulty pronouncing "sister." Sirsy has never had a major recording contract, yet the band records and tours relentlessly, in 2017 performing 218 times in 38 states and covering more than 62,000 miles. In April 2018, however, Krahmer was diagnosed with breast cancer following a routine MRI— she was first diagnosed in 2010 — and had a bilateral mastectomy in June. She defeated cancer a second time and is back on the road.

Doctor's orders demanded Sirsy stop touring for the first time in years, but the duo was back in full form at the Bitter End tonight as the little band with the big sound.  Krahmer stood center stage behind her drum kit, pounding the rhythms as she belted blues-inspired, groove-oriented modern rock songs. On her left, Libutti played cutting guitar licks through a pedal board loaded with vintage effects. The songs needed a thick bottom, so on some songs Krahmer played bass lines by hitting a drum stick on a keyboard mounted on her drums. On other songs, Libutti played bass pedals with his feet. On the surface, the songs were anthemic pop tunes, but underneath was a pair of imaginative and very talented musicians who accomplished far more than bands with many more feet, hands and fingers.

Visit Sirsy at www.sirsy.com.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Barry Ryan at the Parkside Lounge

Rockabilly band Levi and the Rockats formed in 1977 in Essex, England, and soon relocated to New York City. Lead singer Levi Dexter left the band in 1979, and the remaining members became the Rockats. Guitarist Barry Ryan, who had played in a blues rock band called Tramp and a punk band called the Victims, joined the Rockats that same year. The Rockats charted on MTV and played on television's American Bandstand, and split in 1984. In 1983, Ryan had formed Lucky 7 as a side project, playing a mix of rock and roll and zydeco on the local circuit until 1992. Ryan then formed the Blue Diamonds, but shortly thereafter the Rockats reformed, so Ryan rejoined his former band. He later formed Rockabilly Express and released two albums. While the Rockats are in hiatus, Ryan plays with his own combo and periodically in Robert Gordon's band. Ryan released his sole solo album, And God Said Let There Be Rockabilly, in 2008.

Apfel/Krebs/Simone Presents book a monthly rock and roll event called The Endless Party at the Parkside Lounge. Tonight's Holiday Bash included a rare performance by Barry Ryan and his band (bassist Jerry Scaringe and drummer Ira Kaye). The bulk of Ryan's set consisted of covers of vintage rockabilly songs, including some obscurities, but also included at least three originals, "Rock and Roll Radio", "Love You Anyway," and "Bandito," which was an instrumental. The band's interpretations of the borrowed songs were not so much centered on rockabilly's traditional wobble and twang, but on the intricacy and textures of the speedy, reverb-soaked guitar work within the genre. Ryan sang, but the bulk of each song pivoted on his guitar leads and the splendid interplay of his rhythm section. Despite the lack of a strong vocal presence leading the music, the musical arrangements left no doubt that this was a rockabilly show; Ryan proved to be a fine student of his craft, capturing the genre's uniqueness and dynamics in an exciting live environment.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Good Old War at the Bowery Ballroom

Keith Goodwin
Vocalists/guitarists Keith Goodwin and Tim Arnold grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and recorded several EPs in a band called Days Away. Around 2005, the band dissolved and Arnold began playing with former Unlikely Cowboy drummer/accordionist Dan Schwartz from nearby Cheltenham. Goodwin eventually approached the pair about backing him on some solo dates. They performed covers at Philadelphia-area bars and backed Circa Survive's Anthony Green in the studio and on tour. Composing songs and developing three-part harmonies, Goodwin, Arnold, and Schwartz in 2008 became Good Old War, creating the band name from portions of the three musicians' surnames. Arnold left the band in 2014 to move to Atlanta, Georgia, raise a family, and gain sobriety, and rejoined the band in 2016. After four albums and two EPS, Good Old War recorded a three-part series of EPS; the most recent entry, Part of Us, was released on December 7, 2018.

Good Old War headlined at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, effusively marrying folk and pop into a celebratory sound. Long on bubbly bounce and charismatic charm, the trio's light Americana music reverberated joy-filled and worry-free states of being, even though the lyrics were not all celebratory. The natural setbacks of human life seemed to become the ushers of optimism in the world of Good Old War. Whimsical arrangements, light melodies and tight vocal harmonies provided the wavelengths that carried the positive sentiments. For the encore, the three vocalists harmonized from the center of the audience, backed by only Arnold's acoustic guitar. Maybe Good Old War is the antidote needed during troubled times.

Visit Good Old War at www.goodoldwar.com.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Walter Lure & the Waldos at the Bowery Electric

Takto Nakai & Walter Lure
Walter Lure, born in Queens and raised in Long Island, started guitar lessons at age 12 but stopped until he played in cover bands while in college in the late 1960s. His first exposure to the downtown music scene in New York City was in the glam punk Demons in the 1970s. Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan left the New York Dolls in 1975, formed the Heartbreakers with Richard Hell, who had just left Television, and recruited Lure to join the band. The Heartbreakers ruled the New York club circuit and toured England with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Damned, but achieving only underground success in New York City and England, the Heartbreakers split in 1978. Lure formed two short-lived bands, the Hurricanes and the Heroes, before forming the Waldos in 1986. Along the way, he played in many Heartbreakers reunions until Thunders died in 1991. In 1993, the Waldos released a debut album, Rent Party. Since 1995 the Waldos has consisted of Lure, guitarist Tak "Takto" Nakai, bassist Takanori "EZ" Ichiuji, and drummer Joe Rizzo . The Waldos, now rechristened Walter Lure & the Waldos, released Wacka Lacka Boom Bop A Loom Bam Boo, the band's first album in 25 years, on August 17, 2018. The lead track, "Crazy Kids," will be featured in the forthcoming full-length film Thunders: Room 37, which dramatizes the final days of Johnny Thunders.

Walter Lure & the Waldos perform in New York City about once every two months, and usually at the Bowery Electric. The set tonight featured newer songs from Wacka Lacka Boom Bop A Loom Bam Boo as well as many of the songs Lure wrote or co-wrote for the Heartbreakers. The set started with three songs from the current album, beginning with "Crazy Kids," a song Lure wrote in the 1990s and then forgot. The new songs savored the flavor of the old Heartbreakers vibe, but were also tighter, faster and more polished than anything from the Johnny Thunders generation. The show closed, as Waldos concerts usually do, with a pair of rocking songs that recalled the Heartbreakers' sordid reputation, "Too Much Junkie Business" and Dee Dee Ramone's "Chinese Rocks." Saxophonist Danny Ray and guitarist Shige Matsumoto joined on a few songs. Walter Lure & the Waldos brilliantly accomplished what few bands can do; the band solidly and authentically preserved the sound and legacy of late 20th century New York rock and roll.

Setlist:
  1. Crazy Kids
  2. Damn Your Soul
  3. Take a Chance (The Heartbreakers song)
  4. All by Myself (The Heartbreakers song)
  5. Cry Baby
  6. London Boys (The Heartbreakers song)
  7. Busted (Harlan Howard cover)
  8. One Track Mind (The Heartbreakers song)
  9. Let Go (The Heartbreakers song)
  10. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Paul Revere and The Raiders cover)
  11. Pirate Love (The Heartbreakers song)
  12. Get Off the Phone (The Heartbreakers song)
  13. Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)? (Lloyd Price cover)
  14. Born to Lose (The Heartbreakers song)
  15. Too Much Junkie Business (The Heartbreakers song; with Shige Matsumoto on guitar)
  16. Chinese Rocks (The Heartbreakers song; with Shige Matsumoto on guitar)

Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. at Otto's Shrunken Head

Vocalist/lead guitarist Michael McMahon came to New York City from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and met bassist/banjo player Garth Powell when both had blond spiky hair and played in local punk bands. Aging out of that phase, they played together in the 1980s alt-country band Last Roundup. That band split after one 1987 album, and McMahon and Powell then formed the hillbilly/rockabilly revival band Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. The trio also features Michigan-born rhythm guitarist Jon Hammer, and performs at Otto's Shrunken Head monthly, usually on the last Thursday of each month.

Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co., also known by its acronym, SIT & Die Co., claims to plays solely "ballads, boogies & blues," but that marketable yet vague catch-phrase allows the band to interpret vintage country-western, honky tonk, rockabilly and even swing and old-timey rhythm and blues. At Otto's Shrunken Head tonight for the band's monthly two-hour show, the three musicians wore matching western wear, decorated the staging with 1950s-styled set pieces, placed baskets of tortilla chips on all tables, played up the cornball country comedy, and performed killer roots music often on one electric and two acoustic instruments. Powell's bass provided sharp rhythm and bounce without a drummer's help, McMahon captured an authentic guitar twang and hillbilly vocals, and Hammer gently offered the fuller, thicker resonation, while all three harmonized on choruses. Old covers and original songs sounded like they derived from old 10-inch 78 rpm records. On this night, the band also invited onto the stage Stella Rose Saint Clair to sing several cowgirl songs. The stage act was more than a concert, it was a sparklingly entertaining cabaret act that would do well off-Broadway.

Visit Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. at www.SITandDieCo.com.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden

Long associated with Long Island, New York, Billy Joel actually was born in The Bronx; his family moved to Oyster Bay when he was a one year old. There, Joel reluctantly began piano lessons at an early age at his mother's insistence; he preferred boxing, but left the sport after getting a broken nose. After watching the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, Joel decided to pursue a career in music. Joel played in several short-lived bands, including the Echoes, the Lost Souls, the Hassles and Attila, before starting a successful solo career in 1971. In total, Joel has won six Grammy Awards and sold more than 150 million records worldwide. Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. His 12th and most recent album, River of Dreams, was released in 1993.

Billy Joel tonight headlined his 105th concert at Madison Square Garden, this time backed by musical director/keyboardist Dave Rosenthal, guitarists Mike Delguidice and Tommy Byrnes, bassist Andy Cichon, drummer Chuck Burgi, percussionist Crystal Taliefero, and a horn section comprised of Taliefero, Mark Rivera, and Carl Fischer. Performing less than a week before Christmas, the concert included several snippets of seemingly impromptu Christmas songs as well as guest appearances by two daughters, 32-year-old Alexa Ray Joel and three-year-old Della Rose Joel (her dad called it her "show biz debut"). On a puzzling note, though, Joel also had Delguidice sing "Nessun dorma," a tenor aria from Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. With no new music to promote, Joel performed big hits and a few deep cuts from all but his first album, surprisingly omitting his biggest hit, "Just the Way You Are." Throughout the evening, he glided deftly from soft rock piano ballads to the more rocking songs, introducing almost every song with a short anecdote. Joel was a master at the piano throughout the main set, adding a harmonica for "Piano Man" and switching to guitar briefly during the encore. While his singing grew weaker gradually during the two-hour set, the very vocal audience filled the slack and out-blasted him on the last few songs. Joel will continue his monthly concerts in the arena indefinitely because he is an ace entertainer who well pleases his fans.

Visit Billy Joel at www.billyjoel.com.

Setlist:
  1. Big Shot
  2. Pressure
  3. She's Right on Time
  4. The Entertainer
  5. Big Man on Mulberry Street
  6. Vienna
  7. Allentown
  8. Don't Ask Me Why (with daughter Della Rose Joel)
  9. New York State of Mind
  10. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane cover) (with Alexa Ray Joel)
  11. Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
  12. She's Always a Woman
  13. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Gene Autry cover)
  14. Sometimes a Fantasy
  15. O Come, All Ye Faithful (Frederick Oakeley cover)
  16. My Life
  17. Only the Good Die Young
  18. The River of Dreams
  19. Joy to the World (Isaac Watts cover)
  20. Nessun dorma (Giacomo Puccini cover, sung by Joel's guitarist)
  21. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
  22. Silver Bells
  23. Piano Man
Encore:
  1. We Didn't Start the Fire
  2. Uptown Girl
  3. It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
  4. You May Be Right/Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin cover, snippet only)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Oz Noy Trio at the Bitter End

Oz Noy
At age 10 in his native Israel, Oz Noy learned to play Israeli music and Beatles songs on his guitar, gradually exploring and expanding his repertoire to bebop jazz, blues, pop and heavy metal. By his mid-teens, he was playing alongside top Israeli musicians, and by his mid-20s he was one of the most established studio guitarists in his country. Noy emigrated to New York in 1996 and has frequently led all-star bands at the Bitter End, the 55 Bar and Iridium. Each performance has featured different collaborators, but often they have been among New York's top session musicians, including Will Lee, Anton Fig and Bernard Purdie. Noy has released eight studio albums and six instructional videos; his most recent album, Ozone Squeeze, a collaboration with keyboardist/vocalist Rai Thistlethwayte and drummer Darren Stanley, was released on September 15, 2017.

Noy plays in a trio or quartet most Monday nights at the Bitter End. Tonight, his accompanists were bassist Fima Ephron and drummer Andrew Atkinson. Playing an all-instrumental set, Noy started many songs with Wes Montgomery-styled smooth jazz melodies which then broke into angular Thelonious Monk-like twists. Improvisational jams abounded, and performing without a keyboardist on this night meant that Noy had to do more heavy lifting than usual. Noy employed various technical schools in his solos, coloring his virtuosic approaches with artistry along with proficiency. Snatches of rhythm and blues, funk, blues and rock grooves gave the fabric additional textures. As such, the Oz Noy Trio provided a night of fusion jazz geared to listeners who normally would not attend a jazz concert.

Visit Oz Noy at www.oznoy.com.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Seth Kessel Band at Otto's Shrunken Head

Seth Kessel
Seth Kessel is a New York native known as the Brooklyn Troubadour. He has played lead guitar for several local artists, but also performs occasionally with his own band. One night he may be playing rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly at a Brooklyn bar, and on another night he may be dressed in a suit and tie playing jazz at a private event. He often plays guitar in Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers as well as Jessy Carolina & the Hot Mess. Although he has played on other musicians' albums, Kessel released his own music as Seth Kessel & the Two Cent Band in 2013 on an album entitled In the Golden Days.

The Seth Kessel Band performed tonight at Frank Wood's Wind-Down Sunday series at Otto's Shrunken Head, and performed a vast array of roots music. Kessel sang and played guitar, accompanied bsaxophonist Ryan Weisheit, bassist Julian Smith, and drummer Stephen Purcell. The high-voltage set included obvious strains of prohibition-era swing, finger-picking blues, classic honky-tonk, and a big dose of twangy rockabilly. Kessel was quite a guitar virtuoso, and easily shifted his playing to accommodate the diverse genres of the song. He was also a strong vocalist, with a rich tone and broad range. The only question is which genre will lead to his breakthrough to a larger audience.

Visit Seth Kessel at www.SethKessel.com.

Brian Dunne at Coney Island Baby

Raised in Monroe, New York, Brian Dunne studied music and ultimately relocated to Brooklyn, New York, to launch a career as a singer/songwriter. Before long, he found himself booked to open for many folk and Americana artists, including the Stray Birds, Pat McGee, Joan Osborne, Delbert McClinton, the Secret Sisters, Will Hoge, Rosanne Cash, Robert Earl Keen, and others. Dunne released albums in 2015 and 2017, and his most recent product, The Timber House Sessions, a live EP of stripped-down versions of previously released songs, was released on March 16, 2018.

Derek Cruz of Jesse Malin's band tonight curated a program called Songs and Mistletoe at Coney Island Baby featuring various little-known music artists. Brian Dunne came on last, performing to a late-night audience of perhaps 15 listeners. The 29-year-old strapped on his acoustic guitar, opened his tenor voice and showcased an impressive collection of introspective lyrics and folk-styled arrangements. The songs had plenty of heart and Dunne projected vulnerability, hope and resilience in his delivery. This heart-on-the-sleeve approach and expressive lyrics ought to gain Brian Dunne a substantial audience.

Brian Dunne will headline at Mercury Lounge on December 26.

Visit Brian Dunne at www.briandunnemusic.net.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Rousers at Sidewalk

Bill Dickson and Tom Milmore played together in bands while in high school in Weston, Connecticut. Dickson then attended art school in New York City and fell in with its glitter and glam rock scene while Milmore studied audio engineering and played bass in a band in Connecticut. By 1977, Dickson and Milmore were playing New York clubs as the Rousers (not to be confused with another band with the same name in the Netherlands around the same time). After numerous personnel changes, Sal "King" Capazucca joined the New York band on drums. The Rousers split in 1982 and the musicians joined other bands until the band regrouped in 1999. In 2001, the Rousers released an album, Playing the Rock and Roll for You. The Rousers' most recent recording is a single, "Take a Ride to the Lower East Side" with Dina Regine on vocals, released on October 19, 2018.

At Sidewalk tonight, the Rousers played vintage-styled rock and roll with a wry twist. Their lyrics and between-song banter were not designed to generate belly laughs, but entertained in a clever, light-hearted manner. The band started its set with its seasonal song, "Christmas Party," then moved on to non-seasonal compositions like the lively "City of Girls." The set's bouncing rhythms fueled the jolly spirit and had audience members dancing. By the end of the show, Dickson returned to the holiday theme by turning on the Christmas lights in his Christmas-themed suit. The Rousers' buoyant affect made for a merry Christmas party.

Visit the Rousers at www.therousers.com.

Setlist:
  1. Christmas Party
  2. City of Girls
  3. Lose My Mind
  4. Old Man Band
  5. To Love Somebody (Bee Gees cover)
  6. Soul Arms
  7. Milk Train
  8. Let's Work Together (Wilbert Harrison cover)
  9. Back in the Day
  10. Kickin'

Friday, December 14, 2018

Bikini Carwash at Otto's Shrunken Head

Lizzie "Steelheart" Taubeneck moved to New York City from Wilmette, Illinois, and became a theater student and hair stylist. She sang in several local music acts, including Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, and landed a bit part in the 2011 film We Are the Hartmans. Since 2010, however, her passions have unfurled as lead singer for Brooklyn's Bikini Carwash. The band presently consists of Steelheart, guitarist Cameron Majidi, bassist Andy Shaw and drummer Carrie Kamikaze. Bikini Carwash released a self-titled EP in 2014.

At Otto's Shrunken Head tonight, Steelheart sang pop melodies while the band powered the songs with fast, loud punk drive. The charismatic vocalist commanded the stage, but also the floor as she crawled and spun on the ground between audience members. Meanwhile, Majidi's stinging guitar leads, Shaw's thick bass lines, and Kamikaze's brash percussion pummeled forth, contrasting Steelheart's light and lilting vocal textures. Bikini Carwash successfully paired the hook-laden elements of pop with the roar of punk's wall of sound into a unique marriage.

Setlist:
  1. Going Down
  2. Night Kitchen
  3. Black Roses
  4. Beat Your Heart Out (The Distillers cover)
  5. Dick to Kate
  6. Relish
  7. Everybody Knows Something Is Wrong
  8. Ghost Story
  9. Greenback
  10. Wanted

Hollis Brown's Holiday Jam at Coney Island Baby

New York City-based rock band Hollis Brown hosted a Holiday Jam at Coney Island Baby on December 14, 2018, and invited several musical friends to join them on stage. Darryl "DMC" McDaniels of Run-DMC, Steve Conte, Jesse Malin, Cate O'Riordan of the Pogues and Elvis Costello's band, Byron Isaacs of the Lumineers, Don DiLego, John Gallagher, Jr. of Broadway's Spring Awakening, Lizzie Edwards of Lizzie + the Makers, Ann Courtney of Mother Feather, Gordon Lawrence of Beechwood, Fiona Silver, and Richard Barone, formerly of the Bongos, each sang a song. Hollis Brown performed several songs before introducing the guests, and then played a few more songs afterwards.

All proceeds from the concert benefitted the Jimmy Fund. The Jimmy Fund is a charity which raises money solely to support adult and pediatric cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. Since its founding in 1948, the Jimmy Fund has raised millions of dollars through thousands of grassroots efforts to help save lives and give hope to cancer survivors.

Holiday Jam setlist:
  1. Father Christmas (The Kinks cover, with Jesse Malin)
  2. Jesus Christ (with Gordon Lawrence)
  3. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (Johnny Marks cover, with Ann Courtney)
  4. Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives cover, with Don DiLego)
  5. Last Christmas (Wham! cover)
  6. All I Want for Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey cover, with Lizzie Edwards)
  7. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) (John & Yoko & Plastic Ono Band cover, with John Gallagher Jr.)
  8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Darlene Love cover, with Cait O'Riordan)
  9. Christmas All Over Again (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers cover, with Byron Isaacs)
  10. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (Irving Berlin cover, with Richard Barone)
  11. Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms cover)
  12. Santa Baby (Eartha Kitt cover, with Fiona Silver)
  13. Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry cover, with Steve Conte)
  14. Christmas in Hollis (Run-DMC song, with Darryl McDaniels)
  15. Tricky (Run-DMC song, with Darryl McDaniels)
  16. Walk This Way (Aerosmith cover, with Darryl McDaniels & Steve Conte)

Hollis Brown
Jesse Malin
Gordon Lawrence of Beechwood
Ann Courtney of Mother Feather
Don DiLego
Lizzie Edwards of Lizzie + the Makers
John Gallagher, Jr. of Spring Awakening
Cait O'Riordan of the Pogues and Elvis Costello's band
Byron Isaacs of the Lumineers
Richard Barone
Fiona Silver
Steve Conte
Mike Montali of Hollis Brown and Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC
Steve Conte, Mike Montali, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels