Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Lost Bayou Ramblers @ Joe's Pub

The Lost Bayou Ramblers
@ Joe's Pub
New York, NY - September 29, 2017

From Lafayette, Louisiana to Lafayette Street came the Lost Bayou Ramblers, a Cajun rock syndicate highly recommended by a fellow barfly and native New Orleans boy. Perhaps they can do for their sound what the Pogues did for Irish music and they should: the fellas' put on a show mixing straight Cajun sounds with more lumbering rock dirges. They capped it off with an unplugged set walking the circumference of Joe's Pub, stopping for a round at the bar upon which they stood and offered cheers.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Seaport Music Festival: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists; Jean Grae; Azar Swan

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists; Jean Grae; Azar Swan
@ Seaport Music Festival
New York, NY - September 9, 2017

Admittedly it was looking grim. The revived Seaport Music Festival was moved from the large pier to the cramped corner outside the old Fulton Fish Market. The bands looked more like they were to be background to bros and broettes drinking their $15 dollar cocktails at the Massive Bank Sponsored Drinking Area while tourists made their way to Perfume-drenched Clothing Chains. Azar Swan, with their dark dreams and industrial-strength intensity definitely stood athwart the confines but the vibe was still suspect to say the least.

Then came Jean Grae.

Backed and sidekicked by Quelle Chris, Jean Grae confronted the awkward setting head on by...confronting everyone with their own awkwardness. It was a brilliant punk stroke to smash this plastic to smithereens and make it real. And she pulled it off. More than borrowing from her other kinds of work to pull in the crowd and displaying her eclectic world-of-20th Century Music education (more evidence later), Jean suddenly made this a proper show.

Ted Leo has a new solo-driven album, The Hanged Man, his first with his own name in many years. It's a strong record. But to take it out live, he needed his reinvigorated "expando band" Pharmacists. The band was T I G H T Tight. "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" was given new life with a saxphone smoothness and later that saxophonist, Adrian (sp?) took that instrument to those wonderfully discordant New York places. Other gems from Hearts of Oak, including "The High Party" and the title track, were full of the classic Ted Leo oomph but with a fresh burst of soul. The new material worked well with the gang, namely the killer "Anthems of None", "You're Like Me" and "The Little Smug Supper Club". Jean Grae made an appearance early on the track she sang on the record - "Can't Go Back" - which made for one of the highlights of the night. Ted went the troubadour-route (and of course had to talk about it) for "The Nazarene" and the excellent "Lonsdale Avenue". He made note of using an acoustic guitar solo but thought nothing of it later for "Bottled in Cork". By the time it all ended with "Little Dawn", the sharply dressed Ted and his sharply crafted band had delivered a show to be remembered for a long time to come.