I always promise myself I'm going to stay on top of writing up the Fest shows, and sometimes I even get off to a good start as I did this year. I thought the strategy of live write-ups while at Sidewalk would help, but it turned out I couldn't get everything down between sets. Well, now's the time, even after the fact, that I try to catch up a little. Fest burnout and life in general intervened a bit toward the end and so I ended up missing some shows I wish I'd seen .
The Fest Wrapped up Friday, coming to a conclusion with a great set by The Wowz.
I arrived at the tail end of The Fools set....I was coming straight from a rehearsal, so I had a good excuse for being late.... Anyway, I heard one of my favorite Fools songs, the one that pays tribute to parents.
The Debutante Hour played next. Those gals get better and better every time I see them. Their harmonies are so tight and well constructed. Plus, I appreciate the fact that they always pay attention to a unified look on stage (nice outfits gals). They debuted a cover of TLC's song "No Scrubs" last night and handled several other of their hits, like Devil Song and Miracle Birth. The Debutante Hour, if you've never seen them, comprise Susan Hwang and Maria Sonevytsky, who trade off on accordion and other instruments (Susan played a lot of percussion the other night) and Mia Pixley who plays cello. They have a great sound and are working on a new cd which I'm looking forward to.
The Debutante Hour was followed up by Myron the Magnificent. Myron is kind of an exasperated magician, struggling with mishaps in his career, an overbearing "magic mom" and problems with his assistant, Vera Lynn. Still, he has the power to amaze, as he did Friday by piercing a balloon with a long needle without popping it, producing coins magically from the air, and passing ropes through an audience volunteer. Myron and I are very close--you might even say we're practically alter egos--and I was glad to support him in his debut at Sidewalk Cafe
Crazy and the Brains rocked the hall with a supplemented group that featured Mike Winkler playing an inverted bass drum and Joe Crow shaking it on various percussion instruments from the side of the stage. (I'm not sure if Joe Crow was invited to perform or just joined in.) I'm starting to get much more into the Crazy aesthetic. It's pretty cool to mix the punk rock/acoustic style with percussion instruments like xylophone or glockenspiel or whatever it is that is played by "The Brains," (who is an excellent musician). Right now I can't stop singing End of the World, Saturday Night Live, and Sexy Magazine.
Despite the snow Don McCloskey filled up Sidewalk yet again. Don is a charismatic performer who really has command of the stage and of his audience. His fans seem to know the lyrics to all his songs and singing along is a big part of the show. Don mixes folk and hip-hop, with hip-hop taking command to a large extent last night. Friday he drew on Jeff from Crazy in the Brains to sit in playing the Glockenspiel on Don's song about...a Glockenspiel. He also debuted on piano a funny song he wrote about men's figure skating. And he dedicated Dance Like a Jackass, to Jon Berger who did just that with hilarious extremity.
Next up was Lach who performed an energetic set that also spun off into monologues and comic pieces like his impersonation of Jim Morrison as Batman. There was a song I hadn't heard before which Lach introduced as stemming from a period staring too long a Monet's water lillies. I can understand how those amazing paintings would inspire a song, and this one was cool, intertwining colors and numbers and language. Several of the familiar Lach songs like Jet City, Hey, and Ungrateful seemed to have extra zest. Maybe it was just me, but there was kind of a coherence to it all, even with the comic tangent. The Batman/Morrison connection came because Val Kilmer played both roles. Lach also did some schtick about short poems, and sang the Spiderman and Gigantor themes as lead ins to a request for Stephen Said.
Toby Goodshank played a cool Barry Bliss cover and also spoke extensively about a couple he'd witnessed earlier in the night involved in some interesting back end byplay. I'm sorry that I had to step out for some of Toby's set but the crowd was rapt so it seemed he rocked.
I've been fan of The Wowz for a while and have been intrigued by their interest in an early 1960s style of vocal harmonies. But it had been a while since I'd heard them and now, it seems that Julie Lamendola has joined Sam Grossman, Simon Beins, and Johnny Dydo as a permanent part of the group. Things have developed in a really interesting way, with Julie's amazing vocals providing a strong counterbalance to the singing by Sam, Simon and Johnny. Plus, the whole group seemed "rockier" with more reliance on electric guitar. There were some really nice musical interludes that involved trading off and overlapping playing on saw and guitar. A nice way to close the Fest.
Stay tuned for a wrap up of lots of other shows yet to be covered.....