I see a lot of live music these days, wasn't so that long ago. I am so glad to be back out in the clubs and seeing the incredible talent that this town has to offer. I make sure to go to the small venues to see the bands that are working their asses off for their craft. I am constantly amazed at the passion and talent that can come from some of these great collections of musicians. I regularly see artist putting their balls out in front of everyone to see, it is inspiring.
Last night at Conor Byrne there was a display of this passion on stage x2.
Conor Byrne is a great place to see music: a beautiful bar (fully stocked with premium goodies, they had my favorite Gin: Hendrix), friendly an attentive staff, plenty of seating and tables, a small but adequate dance floor, restrooms with a lots of places to pee, and a nicely situated stage. Lots of seating choices, you could sit on top of the band if you wanted, or you could sit way back and still see the band. Last night Evan ran the sound board, it was flawless; I could hear every instrument and voice very clearly. Of course it helped that I was sitting right next to him...he was a great craftsmen and I talked with him a bit, it helps to have a strong man at the board.
First on was God's Favorite Beefcake, I had never heard them before and was surprised at the repertoire. I have seen a few old timey bands lately, I saw the Sweet Spots at Slim's last month, great stuff. GFB had a dash of old timey, punk, and wackiness. I couldn't find a ton of info on names of the band members, I found one set of artists for the band but it listed a dude as the fiddle player...that definitely wasn't a male playing last night. I would love to acknowledge each artist but will fail in this outing.
The lead singer billed as Shmoottzi the Clod; quite the character with fading hair, a straggly beard, nose ring and a really expressive face. He was bat shit crazy at times, hard for me to understand but I didn't need to understand the words...his intent was obvious. They played some great stuff, obviously talented musicians. The fiddle player was a lovely pale girl dressed as a leopard; a long print skirt, wide red belt and a leopard hat with ears...tasty licks on the violin and fun to watch. The accordion player was talented and hilarious, really playing a part, very expressive and animated. I saw him later so drunk he could barely talk, hope he made it home OK. The stand up base was great, another animated and talented artist, I think his name was Meshuguna Joe, a lot of fun to watch. They played a lot of what I would call Klesmer, but I am not an expert. The wind-wood player was excellent, adding the nasal touch when needed. The percussionist/voacalist and I think it was an Autoharp artist was a gorgeous brunette who sat during the perfromance. I see her name listed as Dumbelina, the Queen of Bimbos. She stored the spoons between her breasts.
A very unique set and really a lot of fun. One of their fans was buying them drinks, it looked liked 3 fingers of whiskey for each band member on a regular basis. By the end of the set most were faced, Shmoottzi was just sitting and smiling during the last couple of numbers.
Oh, did I mention that Shmoottzi put a fork up his nose? Yes, right after he pounded the 16 penny nail in the same said nose. Then of course he swallowed a sword, how else would you end such a crazy set?
A quick break for a breath of stale air and back to the club for the next act.
I had been sitting at the bar with my friend Mark, we were in a great spot, could see the band and get great service...yes another please. At one point a gent with a great set of chops came up to the bar and started emptying the contents of his pockets. Out came enough harmonica's to outfit The Harmonicats, he was looking for his drink ticket, a perk for the talent. It was the lead singer Brian Ballentine, we started to talk and he asked me how i had heard of them.
I go out every Friday night, don't want to travel to far (I live in Lake City), and I want to see a band that has a) thrilled me before or b) sounds like it has promise, a subjective decision usually made that day. I was headed to the Little Red Hen (close in Green lake) to see Randy Walden and the Gunslingers. I am not a huge Keith Urban type country fan, something Randy was linked to, but I will give anybody a chance. Just before I left the house I decided to scan a couple other clubs on the web. I saw that Blvd. Park was playing at Conor Byrne, I had never heard of them before. I had found them on the Stranger Music Listings and they had a link to some of their music. I was sold in 30 seconds.
I relayed this to Brian and he was very cordial in thanking me for showing up and promised a great show.
Later as I bought a CD from the stage he acknowledged me on mike and told a quick version of the story thanking me for my support.
I really enjoyed the music of Blvd. Park, which they bill as Americanie•Spaghetti Western•High Desert•Browngrass. I guess I would describe it as alt country with many influences, punk, hip hop, old timey, traditional... The main impression I got from the first song was passion, these guys believed in their art and left it all on stage. If they hadn't been so good I would have at least given them kudos for bringing it that night.
Brian was meticulous in preparing, spending a lot of time working with Evan at the board and on his knee in front of the monitor tuning his guitar. He was a tour de force, ranging from banging out rock tunes to gently caressing out beautiful melodies from his instrument. I don't know for sure but I am guessing he writes the bulk of their tunes, with much input from the other highly talented artists. He also had a great voice, sometimes gravely, some times crooning... a talented man for sure.
The female singer and percussionist; Tekla Waterfield (interesting as this night, both bands had female percussion) was a lovely tall girl with a angelic voice. She was graceful and beautiful as she sang on most of the tunes, banging on the tambourine or playing the guitar with a real passion.
The accordian player also played the trumpet, with the mute on his horn his sound was mellow and magic, a lovely addition to this mix. Timothy Conroy was multiply talented and also sang on most tunes, he had the classic jazz man look; black trimmed beard, black leather vest, black leather sport cap.
Jarrett Mason played the Doghouse bass, a tall handsome gent, he also was the lead on several tunes. He had a lovely voice and contributed the the great harmonies this band produced.
The Mandolin player was fantastic, because the mix was so good I could hear him coming through clear. Dune Butler looked like he just stepped out of high school, but sounded like a pro as he also filled in with vocals.
A banjo fit so well into this mix, Banton Foster had some tasty licks as he played his instrument with true passion. He also having a lot of fun, adding vocals to the great harmonies.
If I had one complaint it was that they didn't play long enough and that the final tune was fairly anticlimactic. I was paying pretty close attention and was surprised to see them packing up. Next time I hope they will have a bigger finish and give me a chance to yell "more!"