Friday night, I took my own advice and went over to The Bearsville Theater for the Jonny Monster Band, and they were even more impressive than the first time I saw them! Jon opened their set solo acoustic with a resonator guitar, doing a short set of old school blues. Not as comfortable onstage without his band and electric guitar, he nevertheless managed to pull off a very competent set. Gotta give him props just for doin’ it, ya know! Then the band came on, and you could tell immediately that they were all at home now! Roaring into their set, I was struck by how good the rest of the band were. At my first exposure to Jonny, the guitar playing was so mindblowing that I barely noticed the rhythm section! Chalk it up to the element of surprise! This time, knowing what to expect, I had the room to relax and listen to the whole band. Drummer Roger LaRochelle is a dynamic powerhouse who never loses sight of the groove and fits Jonny’s guitar playing perfectly! Bassist Pete Newman just stands there playing the exact right notes. This is a band of equals! But, of course, the focus is always on Jonny, as it should be. He’s the one who’s making you sit there thinking, “Can this kid really be as good as I think he is?”. Over and over again, Jonny Monster answered that question with a resounding “Yes!”. I’m telling you, catch them once and you’ll be hooked!
This year is the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones! While still waiting for an official announcement, rumours abound! One is that Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor will be back on board! Do it to me one more time baby!
GRAMMY awards are next week. Should be the usual snooze fest, but maybe there’ll be some good performances. One can only hope.
Almost all of this week’s live music picks are in the city, or at least downstate.
Friday, February 3 – Okay! You’ve got THE YARDBIRDS and VANILLA FUDGE at Irving Plaza and THE CANNABIS CUP BAND in a BOB MARLEY BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION at BB King’s, both in Manhattan. Over at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, THURSTON MOORE of Sonic Youth continues his trek through the Northeast. And at The Towne Crier in Pauling, GARLAND JEFFREYS alternately rocks and punks it up for his fans.
Saturday, February 4 – MARSHALL CRENSHAW joins the aforementioned Mister GARLAND JEFFREYS at Maxwell’s in Hoboken and if it’s the first Saturday in the month, it’s the BLUEGRASS JAM at Banjo Jim’s in Manhattan. This one starts early, so be forewarned. Call for showtimes.
Monday, February 6 – It’s the last night of STEVE EARLE’S residency at City Winery in Manhattan, so if you haven’t caught his act yet, don’t miss this one.
Tuesday, February 7 – Well if it isn’t the Pick of the Week! MARK LANEGAN, of the sadly overlooked and very underrated Seattle grunge band, Screaming Trees, stops by at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan. I love Screaming Trees and if there’s any way I can make it to this, I will!
Wednesday, February 8 – THE YARDBIRDS and VANILLA FUDGE reprise Friday’s show, but tonight it’s at the Tarrytown Music Hall.
Here’s a heads up for next week. On Saturday, February 11, The Fab Faux, make their first trip to the Hudson Valley, with an appearance at UPAC in Kingston. If you don’t know them, The Fab Faux is a band that performs the music of The Beatles. They’re not a tribute band though, and make no attempt to look or dress like The Fab Four. What they do do, is to play the music, note perfect. As they say on their website, “It’s not a tribute. It’s a recreation.” And it is! When they do “Within You, Without You”, guitarist Jimmy Vivino plays the part on sitar! When they do “Savoy Truffle” or “Got to Get You into my Life”, a horn section appears. For “She’s Leaving Home” or “Eleanor Rigby” a string quartet walks onstage. These guys are so good that when listening to them, they have at times, actually made the music of The Beatles clearer! What I mean is, you can hear the musical parts being played better than on The Beatles’ records! Not always, but often! And the musicians are top notch! The bass player is Will Lee from The Late Show Band, whom no less than Paul McCartney praised as one of the world’s best bassists, and the guitar player is Jimmy Vivino from Conan O’Brian’s Band, who also spends time in The Levon Helm Band, as well as numerous other projects, all first rate! This is the closest you’ll get to the Fab Four today! They often do a complete Beatles album in each set. I’ve seen them do “Sgt. Pepper”, “Rubber Soul”, “Revolver” Magical Mystery Tour”, “The White Album”, and “Abbey Road” as well as the psychedelic singles “All you Need is Love”, “I am the Walrus”, “Strawberry Fields”, “Penny Lane” and “Hey Jude”. The Beatles themselves never performed these songs live, so this is really special! I’ll be on this again in my next column, and I can tell you right now, this will be my Pick of the Week next week!
See you then!