Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Covering it up

Didn't see a lot of "original" music lately. Well, make that bands that play their own songs -- at least not for the time being. A last minute babysitter fell into my lap the other weekend, and I was able to hit Zappafest at Points East. It was, as many have reported, the last day of music there, and the bands sent the bar out with a bang. A last minute addition to the lineup, a band full of younguns called (I think) the Greitchschlag (oh, I'm probably way off!) started things off, a little wobbly, but then they fell into a pretty good groove and got eh crowd warmed up.

The Tempermentals were up next, and they did what they usually do, took Zappa's songs and waild them as ablues, which worked under this treatment. The Tempermentals are a blues band, but they know how to jam, and they know how to freak out, so they were able to take this to the level of Zappa. It was during the Tempermentals' set that one of the milestones of this back music room closing kicked in: Marlavous got the last tap beer. And they weren't kidding when they told her that. Soon after they poured it, they pulled the tapper levers off.

Dr Chow came on next, and they played what almost sounded like a standard Dr Chow set. Standard, in that many of these Zappa songs they do are part of their regular set anyway. I've heard "Dirty Love" and "Miss Pinky" sandwiched inbetween originals and covers of psychedelic era tunes at other venues, so this wasn't a huge departure for them.

It wasn't a huge departure for the Danglers, either -- the Danglers' own music gets as complex and interesting as Zappa, and tonight they dind't disappoint. I'd commented via Twitter that the Danglers are the band that remind you that Zappa wanted to be remembered as an American Composer -- I didn't hear playing of songs by the Danglers, I heard intrepretations of compositions. They sent this bar off with a good bang.

I think the only thing that helped me get over this closing was a comment in OnMilwaukee.com -- seems I didn't know about this little piece of news -- eeeewwwwwwwww and now that music's gone, I have absolutely NO reason whatsoever to set foot in there and give them my money. Hmmmm, this all explains why they seem to get obnoxiously bent out of shape about kids in the place. It's not that children won't be tolerated. It's that the cops won't tolerate the owner being around kids! The chicken wings at Club Garibaldi are a perfectly excellent (and perhaps excelling) alternative, so there I go.

Last Saturday I went and checked out the Bay View Brew Haus to see the Liam Ford band, who grow on me more each time I see them. I once complained that they weren't pure rockabilly, and that complaint has now turned into a compliment. This is a band that takes songs you didn't expect to hear as rockabilly covers and does them convincingly -- they ended the evening with a take on "We'll Meet Again Some Sunny Day" -- that had me almost forgetting that final scene in Dr. Strangelove. Almost, because fundamentally, the Bay View Brew Haus is a beer hall -- high celinings, long tables for big groups, that wonderful echo of a wood framed building, all ripe for raising your glasses and singing along with some German chanteuse. That sound/mix, along with what a friend pointed out, really drove home something I don't think I've mentioned before about this band: God, is Frank Calarco good on guitar or what? He makes country picking and runs seem effortless. But this whole band hangs together well, enjoys what they're doing, which makes the whole experience enjoyable. I have to admit, I'm getting less snobbish about cover bands -- but only if they offer something new. Liam Ford does just that.

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