Jim McNamara

Bryan Dunn CD Release at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Bryan Dunn headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. It was his official CD Release show for Sweetheart of the Music Hall. Three weeks ago I did something I rarely do, I reviewed a CD. It happened to be Brian’s CD.

BryanDunn

Before you read another word about the show, go buy the CD (if you don’t trust me blindly, you can stream it at that link for free, but then buy it).

If you read my review, I hope you took two things from it:

  • Bryan is a masterful lyricist
  • He delivers unfooled-around-with rock

I’d like to add something that I didn’t really mention in the review (and should have!). Bryan has an excellent voice. I don’t know why, but last night I realized that it strikes me as extremely reminiscent of Paul McCartney (someone slap me if it reminds them more of John Lennon, but the point is that it brings me back to some of my earliest memories of loving The Beatles).

BryanDunnSinging

(Off topic: Bryan’s previous CD, Vicious Waltz is also fantastic, I’ve enjoyed it many times, and am listening to it again now as I type!)

All of the above was totally evident last night. The rock was hard-charging and driving throughout. Even the zombies couldn’t resist a little hip swaying (something they typically have trouble doing). Reproducing the sound/feel of this CD on stage is no small feat, but Bryan, along with an incredible band (including a number of special guests) were more than up to the task.

Bryan played both electric and acoustic guitars and generally thrilled the crowd on vocals and mainly unfinished sentences in between songs.

BryanDunnAcousticBryanDunnElectric

The set was absolutely fantastic, we were both still buzzing about it this morning. I’m going to cover each of the core band members first, then the special guests, then a summary of how we discovered Bryan to begin with.

But wait, one not-so-quick aside before doing what I just said I would do. Bryan opened the show with the title cut, Sweetheart of the Music Hall. If you followed my instructions above, and bought the CD before reading this, then you know that there’s a wonderful trumpet lead on that number.

Before playing the song, Bryan called out for Tony Maceli a few times (ending with: “Going once, going twice, gone…”) before starting the song. Someone called out from the audience to say that Tony just texted him to say he was almost there, but the song had just started.

Most of you know that when I write about Tony, it’s almost always about his amazing bass play (both electric and upright). But, if you are addicted to this space and read everything I write, then you know that I’ve also written a couple of times that he’s played the trumpet and even guitar.

Tony was supposed to play the trumpet on Sweetheart of the Music Hall. Obviously, he didn’t. Tony walked in right at the end of the second song, peeked at the set list on stage and noticed that he missed his song.

Do you want to know what my definition of class is? It’s Tony Maceli. Instead of sulking, he watched the entire set, applauded loudly for each number and performer, and put money in the tip jar when it came around (in fact, he was the first to toss money in).

TonyMaceli

Now the band, left-to-right on stage:

Joe Brent on mandolin and acoustic guitar (perhaps more, but I was in a bad vantage point to see him for much of the set). Joe came up on the second number and played on all but one after that. Joe plays on the CD too, so it was great to hear that sound live as well. The mandolin is one of the reasons I said that some of the songs have a Country Rock tinge. Joe’s great (as I find myself repeating a lot lately) and I really enjoyed his play last night.

JoeBrentJoeBrentGuitar

On one number he sat at the electronic keyboards and I thought I was about to hear him on yet another instrument. But, I think he was just resting for a minute. Ah, just looked through Lois’ photos, and it does indeed looked like I missed Joe doing something on the keyboards!

JoeBrentKeyboards

Ah, no I see from the photos that Joe also played the banjo. Thank goodness Lois documented all of this for me!

JoeBrentBanjo

Wait, what’s this? A Guitolin? Manduitar? Who knows. It’s very cute though. Winking smile

ManduitarCloseup

Ryan Vaughn on percussion and drums. Ryan is always great and was at the top of his game last night. He was the primary percussionist last night. That included a floor tom and cymbals as part of his bag of tricks, so it was quite a full sound. In the middle of the set, he moved over the to the full drum kit and ripped it to pieces (that’s a good thing, he didn’t take a knife to the drum kit).

RyanVaughnPercussionRyanVaughnBodylessDjembe

Drew McKeon on drums and percussion. Drew was the primary drummer last night and he was fantastic (my first time seeing him). When Ryan switched to the drums, Drew took over Ryan’s percussion station and was just as good on that. The two of them created the driving beats that I mentioned above, forcing every cell in your body to want to shake it a baby (sorry, couldn’t resist another Beatles reference).

DrewMcKeonDrumsDrewMcKeon

I’ve written a number of times about wanting multiple drummers on stage at the same time (like The Allman Brothers Band perfects) and last night was a completely satisfactory version of that!

RyanVaughnDrewMcKeon

Jim McNamara on upright bass. This was our third time seeing Jim on bass (the first time was our first Bryan Dunn sighting) and he has impressed every time. I would like to see more of him, so I’ll have to see what I have to do to make that happen.

JimMcNamara

Jeremy Goldsmith on lead electric guitar and vocals. Like with Jim, this was our third time seeing Jeremy. While he was great both previous times, I have to say that neither showcased his skills like last night’s set did. A quick digression first.

JeremyGoldsmith

Bryan Dunn is quite the guitarist himself. In fact, half of the times that we’ve seen Bryan, were as the lead guitarist for Jeff Litman, where has been excellent each time. Whenever I see someone who is a great guitarist pick someone else to be the guitar player for them, I know I’m going to see someone special on the guitar, as the guy doing the picking clearly knows what sound he wants and who can deliver it.

JeremyGoldsmithGuitar

Back to Jeremy. Holy cow, he was great on every number, but on a few he let loose with leads that were faster than greased lightning, but still clear as a bell and smooth. I was surprised that my ears could keep up with his fingers.

JeremyGoldsmithJimMcNamaraRyanVaughn

Jeremy sang quite a big of background vocals, extremely well, including three-part harmony with the guests. He was already firmly on my list of people to see whenever I could, but he jumped up a few spots last night. Smile

JimMcNamaraJeremyGoldsmith

Now the special guests, in the order they appeared (song-wise, not position on stage):

Misty Boyce played keyboards on two numbers, including opening the show on Sweetheart of the Music Hall. I don’t know her own music at all, but I’m a huge fan from the previous guest appearances I’ve seen (most recently, at Tony Maceli’s Full Vinyl show). I’m going to do whatever is in my power to correct my lack of knowledge of her own music next Sunday night, 4/15, when she has a set at Rockwood 1 at 10pm. She’s part of a set tonight at 8pm, but I don’t believe I will be there, nor do I know if that’s her music either.

MistyBoyce

Abby Ahmad sang with Bryan on at least three numbers. I’ve been writing about Abby a lot recently. She’s a great singer and songwriter as well (fronting at least two bands that I’m aware of). She has the power to keep up with last night’s sound and was well matched with Bryan. For all the times that I’ve written about her, I hadn’t met her until Lois introduced herself last night and then grabbed me to say hi too. Smile

AbbyAhmadBryanDunnAbbyAhmadSinging

Andy Mac on vocals and tambourine. Andy did a great job of singing harmony with Bryan on one number, then was invited back for the finale with lots of others. Ryan Vaughn handed Andy a tambourine to keep him amused. He did a wonderful job of keeping us entertained on it as well.

AndyMacAndyMacTambourine

Chris Cubeta joined to play the harmonium on one number (I told you this was straight up rock, right? so of course there had to be a harmonium Winking smile ). Chris produced this CD, which I’ve already told you is a masterpiece. I’ve only seen Chris perform once before, also at Tony’s Full Vinyl show.

ChrisCubetaChrisCubetaHarmoniumHarmonium

Mark Marshall joined for the finale, grabbing Bryan’s electric guitar, while Bryan played the acoustic. I’ve mentioned a number of times how good Mark is on the electric. Last night, right after Jeremy totally blew my mind (for the final time, during the finale), Mark took an awesome lead as well. Considering that was on someone else’s guitar, it was all the more impressive.

MarkMarshall

DJ Brik Mason joined for the last number as well. He sang harmony in the beginning, but then Bryan turned it over to Brik for a full-on rap. After rapping, he urged the crowd on after each verse, in a rap-like bridge. It fit in perfectly with the song and kept the energy way up for an already high-energy show.

BrikMasonJoeBrentBryanDunnMarkMarshallBrikMasonRapping

BrikMasonUrgingCrowdBrikMasonBryanDunnDrewMcKeonMarkMarshallAndyMac

One more shot of the finale:

AbbyAhmadJimMcNamaraJeremyGoldsmithChrisCubeta

Well, the finale wasn’t the final song, of course, Bryan had to take an encore. The previously mentioned people left the stage, but Misty returned to the keyboards to help Bryan close out the show, along with the core band.

To repeat, the CD is great, the show delivered that feeling better than we could have expected. What a night.

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Unfortunately for you, if you’re one of those people who have to read all the way to the end, this post isn’t quite over yet.

Lois and I have a huge overlap in the music we love, but we also have tastes that diverge. For most people/groups, one of us is typically a bigger fan (sometimes very slightly). In Bryan’s case, we’re equally fanatic. As I’ve mentioned in two previous posts, Lois listened to the new CD before I did, and was bugging me by calling out lyrics non-stop while I was blogging about Jesse Terry’s show (which was where we bought the CD from Bryan).

She chided me for not including one particular lyric in my CD review. Thankfully, I can appease her now by inserting it here. When she listened to 6 Black Horses (probably her favorite song on the CD), she quoted from the song:

The poet and the pauper, it’s all the same to him
Spend hours in the raging while the lights are growing dim

Lois was struck by the ode to Dylan Thomas. There’s also a reference to The Parting Glass in that song. So struck, that she reached out to Bryan to ask if it was purposeful. It was indeed!

Circling back to the beginning. I’ve mentioned many times that we often serendipitously discover someone because we show up to an earlier set in order to grab a seat, or catch a set between two that we came out for.

Such was the case two years and two weeks ago, when we came early and caught Bryan doing a full set. We were both really impressed. Since then we’ve seen Bryan do a few of his own songs here and there, at a Backscratch and at a few benefits, but mostly, we’ve seen him support Jeff Litman.

Amazingly, it took two years to see him play a full set again. At least the wait was more than worth it!

And, the obligatory (in the best sense!) photos of people we shared the spirit with:

MalloryChrisKellyTonyMaceliTerry

PartialCrowdShot

SamTeichman

Chris Ayer, John Schmitt and Andy Mac at The Living Room

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On April 21st, 2011, I tweeted the following:

Crushing traffic on I95 yesterday. Listening to @johnschmitt and @chrisayer saved our sanity!

I received back the following back from John:

@hadarvc Thx Radar! If you’re free on May 13th, Chris and I play the Living Room, at 10 & 11pm! Would love to say hello! I’ll have my band!

Yes, iPhone autocorrect prefers my name be Radar, such is life. Winking smile

That’s all the information we needed to lock it in our calendar (the show took place at The Living Room, as noted the tweet above). Even though something else important came up, we weren’t going to miss this show (see the very bottom of this post for our compromise/workaround). Doing my usual working backwards on the sets.

Chris Ayer started his set shortly after 11pm. I’ve written about Chris many times and how amazing he is. The last time I wrote about him I noted that Sierra Noble called Chris a poet (and I agreed). Let me take a stab at defining what I (and Lois) mean when we say that.

There are a ton of great lyricists out there. Substantially fewer of those are also poets. Great lyrics can tell a great story, have catchy rhymes or phrases and therefore clearly are the foundation of great songs. Poets create all that, but in addition, they emblazon images in your mind. Their turns of phrases are like Van Gogh’s brushstrokes. Many great songwriters achieve poetry on occasion. Poets achieve it regularly and prolifically. Chris is one such poet.

ChrisAyerSolo

Chris played his usual fantastic set. It was a blend of solo, full band and duets, all of which were equally satisfying. He played a new song, something like Hide in Plain Sight (but I’m reasonably sure it’s not that exactly). Wow, another one that had our table mesmerized.

Chris closed the show with Roy G. Biv. Lois might have tripped him on his way out if had skipped that song last night. Fortunately, she asked him to play it before the set started and he told her it was already on his set list. Winking smile

The band unplugged for Roy G. Biv. John Schmitt joined Chris. Chris, John and Matt Simons came into the audience standing in a large triangle so they could serenade different members. Chris Anderson and Stephen Chopek (the other two band members) came to the front of the stage. It was an amazing way to end a wonderful night.

In addition to bringing John up as a special guest, Chris also brought up Morgan Holland to sing with him on two songs. Perfect! John Schmitt and Morgan Holland will be playing back-to-back sets at Rockwood 1 on June 4th, at 7 and 8pm respectively. Come join us to enjoy what will undoubtedly be a great evening!

ChrisAyerMorganHolland

Speaking of upcoming shows, Chris Ayer will be at Rockwood 1 before them. May 27th at 8pm. We’ll be there too. Smile

The band, from left-to-right on stage:

Chris Anderson on electric and upright bass. Chris is one of our favorite bass players and last night was no exception. As fun as it is to listen to him play a more mellow set like Chris Ayer’s, I am distractedly looking forward to seeing Chris play with Ian Axel at the Bowery Ballroom on May 24th. Aside from the fact that it will be one of the epic nights of music in NYC, Chris Anderson will let loose in a way that tickles me to no end!

ChrisAndersonElectricBass

Stephen Chopek on drums and percussion. Stephen has quickly become a favorite drummer of ours. I was extremely pleased to see him playing with Chris Ayer last night, because he was not drumming for John Schmitt the set before. When we saw John and Chris at Jammin’ Java, Stephen drummed for both (it’s too expensive to bring two drummers I imagine). Another wonderful performance last night by Stephen.

StephenChopek

Matt Simons on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. Matt is an excellent singer/songwriter in his own right and complements Chris Ayer perfectly when he plays sideman to him (which he does quite often). Their harmonies are wonderful and Matt’s keyboard play is excellent. While he didn’t play it last night, I love his sax playing as well.

MattSimonsMattSimonsSinging

I think we missed our tradition of showing Chris Ayer’s unique set list (from his and our vantage) the last time or two. Here is the one from last night:

ChrisAyerSetListChrisAyerSetListFlipped

John Schmitt mirrored Chris’ set (or the reverse, since John was on first) by playing solo, full band and duet as well. He just so happened to do it with an entirely different crew. While John is a somewhat newer discovery for us, you can see from the tweet that started this off, being late to the party hasn’t cost him any of our affection.

JohnSchmitt

His recent CD release, Ophelia, is a gorgeous album. John has a fantastic voice (very soulful) and he plays the guitar beautifully. Add a top band (which isn’t necessary, but always welcome!) and he too wows the crowd, every time.

We like a lot of John’s songs, but at the top are Ophelia and Ave Regina. If he hadn’t sung either of those we might have had to mug him in the (proverbial) parking lot. Thankfully, he performed both (more on each in a minute when I mention the guest stars). Both qualify as poet songs. Smile

Joining John on Ave Regina and Going Back was Lissa Farquhar on vocals. Lissa has a beautiful voice and did a great job on both songs. Ave Regina has stunning harmonies in it, in addition to Lissa taking a verse on the lead. What I particularly liked is the fact that Lissa belted out the harmony as well as the lead. Many backup vocalists think it’s incumbent on them to sing softly to let the lead vocalist shine. It’s a nice thought, but it makes the harmonies so much more difficult to appreciate. Let your voices ring out! Smile

LissaFarquhar

Joining John for his last two numbers was Chris Ayer on vocals. Another wonderful piece of harmony.

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John’s band, from left-to-right on stage:

Greg Barbone on keyboards (organ and grand piano). The Living Room has both a grand piano on stage and a double-decker organ (the size of an upright piano). They are on opposite ends of the stage. John joked that Greg was going to be running back-and-forth, but it turned out not to be a joke. So, I could have listed Greg first or last. Since he kicked it off on the organ, first it is.

GregBarboneOrgan

Greg was great on both. We already knew he would be great on the piano, because he was also the pianist for the set before (covered shortly). The organ was covered up during that set, so I didn’t even know it was there (two feet from where I was sitting).

Brian Killeen on electric bass. We’ve seen Brian many times (mostly with Martin Rivas) and have enjoyed his play each and every time (last night included). When John mentioned that Brian had recently opened for Bon Jovi, Brian joked that it was a solo bass performance, and he did a quick and cute bass-rock-star like thing on stage.

BrianKilleen

Mike Sutton on drums (sorry, couldn’t find a good individual link to Mike). Recall what I said above, that I was expecting Stephen Chopek on drums. I was impressed with Mike’s play, but I need to hear more to form a better opinion.

MikeSutton

Here is John’s set list. Don’t believe everything you read. For example, Lissa did not join on Ophelia and there was no sax during the set (it does say “possible Sax solo” after all):

JohnSchmittSetList

Originally, we had intended to show up just for those two sets. John tweeted that Andy Mac would be on at 9pm. We’d never heard of him, but if he’s part of John and Chris’ crew, we wanted to give him a shot. It was a fun set, so I’m glad we made the effort.

AndyMac

Andy started the show off with a bang. After being ready to go, he just walked off the stage. While our attention was focused on him walking away, his band quietly slipped on Hockey Masks in honor of Friday the 13th. When Andy came back on stage, he too was wearing the mask and had a hoodie on as well. All very menacing. He sang the entire first song with the mask on.

SeanDixonAndyMacHockeyMasksFridayThe13th

That first song is an ancient classic, Build Me up Buttercup. Andy didn’t do it in the classic style. Rather, it was a very slow, Jazzy version, with a few substituted lyrics to make it dead-on for Friday the 13th. What makes me note it is that in the same week, in Philadelphia, we heard Julia Nunes play the same song (on the ukulele, in the more traditional style). The universe is telling me something, I just don’t know what, yet…

Andy has a really nice voice, plays the guitar well, and was accompanied by a tight band. While there were a number of styles performed during the set, most had a fun up-beat vibe to them.

Andy is quite funny. One of his bits was pulling out seven really bad horror movie DVDs that he found while cleaning his apartment. He promised the first seven people who bought one or more of his CDs (he had three available for sale) would get to pick which free horror movie DVD they’d like to take as a bonus.

AndyMacHorrorDVD

Andy’s band, left-to-right:

Mal Gibbes on saxophone (which looked like it was an antique and my apologies, I couldn’t find a good individual link). He performed in roughly 1/2 the numbers. He was excellent, but on most of the numbers he was trying to be super mellow and soft (more complementary than lead, even when they were clearly his leads!). On the last number, Sara, he blew it out, loud and proud and he nailed it!

MalGibbesJimMcNamara

Jim McNamara on upright bass. First, the Mac in Andy Mac is really McNamara. Jim and Andy are brothers! Second, we’ve seen Jim once before, supporting Bryan Dunn at Rockwood 1. We were there to see Vienna Teng followed by The Open Sea (Ari Hest and Rosi Golan). We showed up one set early to ensure good seats for Vienna. Here’s what I had to say that night about Jim:

Jim McNamara played an upright bass. He blew me away. I can’t say that I recall an upright bass being used by a mostly rock ‘n roll band, but Jim made it work perfectly. A few times he played leads in harmony with Bryan’s guitar. Some of those licks were pretty darn fast, and he nailed every one of them!

JimMcNamara

Suffice it to say, he was excellent last night as well, though nowhere near as highlighted as he was with Bryan Dunn’s group (perhaps there’s some sibling rivalry going on). Winking smile

Sean Dixon on drums (also couldn’t find a good individual link and thanks Sam for saving my old-man brain again!). He was excellent, in particular really interesting cymbal play. I’d like to hear more of him.

SeanDixon

Greg Barbone on grand piano. As mentioned above, Greg was outstanding. This was our first time seeing him, but certainly not our last.

GregBarbonePiano

For his last two songs, Andy called up Dave Pollack (a.k.a. Shaky Dave, also no good individual link) to play the harmonica. Very nicely done!

ShakyDavePollack

Not to slight Andy, here is his set list:

AndyMacSetList

To make the evening all the more enjoyable, we shared our tiny table with three lovely ladies, all of whom we consider friends, all met through this music scene.

After saying goodbye to a bunch of people (most of whom were on stage during the three sets), we headed off to the compromise mentioned above.

Earlier last night, The Borromeo String Quartet had a show at the TENRI Cultural Center. Melissa Tong’s brother (Kristopher Tong) is one of the violinists in the quartet and she has told us how awesome he and the quartet are (and she should know!). We’ve missed them once before when they played in NY and we felt badly missing them again last night (we would have had to leave at intermission and we would have missed Andy Mac’s set completely).

In addition to the show, there was a surprise Birthday Celebration for Kristopher afterward. His parents flew in, but the bigger surprise was that his other sister flew in too. Since she wasn’t landing in LaGuardia until 11:30pm, Melissa told us that we could show up as late we needed and the party would still be going. She was correct!

KristopherTongMelissaTong

We walked into the café at 12:30am and indeed, got to meet everyone and wish Kristopher a happy birthday. Even though it was brief, it was a very happy time. I particularly enjoyed meeting Melissa’s Dad and chatting with him a bit. It’s no wonder his kids are so awesome!

Another late night tonight, but you gotta do what you gotta do… Smile

Vienna Teng, Rosi Golan and Ari Hest at Rockwood Music Hall

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On Tuesday night we saw Vienna Teng perform at Parkside Lounge. I detailed the show in this post. Two points to carry over from that night: 1) Vienna tailored the set list for the audience/venue and 2) She played 100% solo. Last night showed her flexibility in mixing it up.

If you’re a fan of an artist or a venue, I highly encourage you to find as many ways to follow them on the Internet (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Buzz, etc.). You never know when a last minute show will be announced, or the artist might appear under a pseudonym, etc.

On March 19th, Vienna tweeted the following:

Gig alert: NYC, Linz Ho plays Rockwood again Wed 3/24, w/band no less. Then to SF to join Paper Raincoat @ Noe Valley Ministry, Fri 3/26!

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that it’s possible that Linz Ho was going to be Vienna herself. A little digging could easily confirm that. We knew we’d be there.

ViennaTeng

Yesterday afternoon, when checking the Rockwood Music Hall site to see who was on before Vienna I noticed that right after her (I mean, right after Linz Ho) were Ari Hest and Rosi Golan appearing together, as a new group called The Open Sea. A couple of hours later, Rosi tweeted the same thing, so I had two chances to discover their last-minute engagement.

Vienna was back on a grand piano last night. Her set list was excellent. Constructed from memory, so excuse any lapses:

The Drugs Don’t Work (a cover of The Verve), Blue Caravan, I Don’t Feel So Well, The Last Snowfall (with Ari Hest), accompanying Ari Hest on one of his songs, [Update: I knew I missed at least one, she played a new song co-written with ambeR Rubarth called Everything’s Fine], 1 Br / 1 Ba, Augustine, City Hall

ViennaTengPiano

Vienna closed the show with City Hall, which was the first time in the nine times we’ve seen her perform that she didn’t close with Grandmother Song. City Hall was an excellent choice, and she continues to keep us on our toes. 🙂

The song that Ari sang during her set was a song he debuted during a Vienna set in January that I covered in this post. He didn’t write the lyrics on his hand this time, and therefore didn’t need to use a candle to see them (a shame, because that was a very cool visual effect!).

Here they are singing The Last Snowfall together:

ViennaTengAriHest

Vienna apologized for not having prepared enough in January to accompany him that night (to her standards, as none of us noticed anything other than excellent piano playing on her part). She was determined to rectify that, and she did. Her piano was incredible on this song, and I encourage Ari to get her to record with him whenever he gets this track into the studio.

Even though she performed under a pseudonym, Rockwood was packed. In contrast with the act on before her (which I’ll cover briefly at the end of this post), people were hanging on her every word/sound, meaning, it was a quiet and respectful crowd.

The band referred to above turned out to be:

Melissa Tong on violin (and even harmony on one number, which was a huge and pleasant surprise!). Melissa is always top-notch and last night was no exception.

MelissaTong MelissaTongSinging

Doug Yowell on drums. I think this was the first time that Doug has played with Vienna. [Update: Vienna’s manager informed me that Doug has played with her before, and is in fact on the live DVD which we own, but haven’t watched yet. Thanks Amy!] He was excellent throughout the set, and did a very nice job on the potentially difficult Augustine, which has a lot of drama (should that be drumma?) 😉 in it.

DougYowell

In the middle of one her songs, Vienna forced Doug to take a dual solo. While continuing to play the drums alone, she made him do his rendition of John Wayne’s drunken commencement speech. When he hit the punch lines, the crowd was hysterical. It took a while to compose ourselves, even when Vienna was singing again. Well done! 🙂

We’ve only gotten to see Rosi Golan and Ari Hest perform briefly. In addition to Ari’s song with Vienna in January, both he and Rosi performed at the Haiti Benefit which I covered in this post. Both had a full band, and it was a pretty crazy night with so many performers rotating throughout the show.

At the Haiti Benefit, Rosi won the raffle for a high-end Martin guitar, signed by all of the performers (including Rosi, Ari and Vienna!). She debuted it in public last night, and here’s Ari making a surgical adjustment to it before it was formally introduced to live play:

AriHestRosiGolanGuitarSurgery

Last night was a perfect setting to see each (and both) perform to their true abilities. We were sitting two feet from them (literally). They are each headlining performers (solo and with full bands) in their own right. They also have a side project together, called The Open Sea. This show highlighted The Open Sea, but each did a few of their own numbers as well, with Ari doing one solo.

AriHestRosiGolan

Both Rosi and Ari have exceptional voices. I can’t describe how well they go together, you’ll simply have to make it to a show to be placed under their spell. I already told you how quiet the crowd was for Vienna, the same was true for Ari and Rosi, because the thought of missing a single note was inconceivable.

They performed four numbers that they co-wrote for The Open Sea. They played at least another four of their individual songs (photo of the napkin set list appears below). Ari finger-picked the guitar on all but one song, and this is the first time I got a chance to notice and appreciate what a wonderful guitar player he is.

TheOpenSeaSetList20100324

Rosi complained that she had SXSW Voice, a condition caused by having to give so many interviews and performances in a short time, often yelling over tons of incredibly loud music. While it may have felt awful inside of her, it sounded as sweet as could be externally. Rosi will be headlining The Highline Ballroom on April 22nd, and I encourage you to run (not walk) to get tickets and make it to that show!

RosiGolan

In the fall, Alex Berger told me that I needed to buy Rosi’s CD The Drifter and the Gypsy. I dawdled longer than I should have, but bought it a few months ago. Wow! The entire CD is fantastic. The opening song, Think of Me, grabs me every time I listen to it. It was just featured in the new movie Dear John. Excellent choice on the part of the producers of the film!

Think of Me is available for you to listen to on Rosi’s MySpace page (linked above). Do yourself a favor and check out my claim. 🙂

Ari Hest just finished recording and mixing a new CD. It was produced by the extraordinary Alex Wong. Given how much I love The Paper Raincoat, Alex Berger’s Snow Globe and Vienna Teng and Alex Wong’s Inland Territory CDs (all produced by Alex Wong!), I can’t wait to get my hands on Ari’s CD when it finally lands.

AriHest

The Open Sea is working on a new EP. I can’t wait for that either. Why are you folks eating and sleeping, when I have a need to listen to your new music over and over?!? 😉

To repeat my point from the introduction to this post, if I didn’t follow Vienna on Twitter, I would be reading someone else’s account of last night’s show, rather than sharing these extraordinary memories with the rest of you, having experienced them first hand!

Rockwood is a fantastic place to see live music. Unfortunately, it’s small and has very few seats. We would stand for Vienna, Rosi and Ari, but we much prefer to sit (much). So, I looked up the act that was on before Vienna, and we decided to catch that set as well, in the hopes of snagging a seat we could hang on to throughout the night.

Bryan Dunn played with a full band, singing lead vocals and playing both acoustic and electric guitar. Most songs were a driving rock style with Bryan singing his heart out. He played rhythm on his acoustic (mostly) but took some nice leads on his electric. He has a great personality on stage and comes across like a very nice guy.

BryanDunn

Jim McNamara played an upright bass. He blew me away. I can’t say that I recall an upright bass being used by a mostly rock ‘n roll band, but Jim made it work perfectly. A few times he played leads in harmony with Bryan’s guitar. Some of those licks were pretty darn fast, and he nailed every one of them!

JimMcNamara

Craig Greenberg played the piano and sang some harmony vocals. Craig did a solid job on both, and Bryan gave him a few leads to stretch himself on the piano.

CraigGreenberg

Chris Benelli played the drums. This was the first time that Chris played with Bryan Dunn, and he did a very nice job.

ChrisBenelli

Here’s a shot of their set list:

BryanDunnSetList

We enjoyed their music, though it was a bit loud given how close we were to the stage. The only surprise (mentioned to contrast the quiet we experienced for Vienna, Rosi and Ari) is that people took the opportunity to talk to each other too much for our taste during Bryan’s set.

To make matter worse, because the music was so loud (which is what I think makes people feel that it’s OK to talk, heck, no one will hear them, right?), they had to scream at each other, which of course, then makes it easy to hear them.

Amazingly, a number of the worst offenders were personal friends of Bryan, who obviously came out to support him. He closed the show with a cool song where the audience sings and he responds. Two tables filled with his friends (one included his wife) did a fantastic job of singing and making the song a ton of fun. One of those tables was filled with people who talked throughout the rest of his set.

Oh well…

Another fantastic night out! 🙂