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.