Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Roots Rock in Brooklyn
June 16, 2012

Otsego
The Pete Sinjin Band
Bar 4
Brooklyn, NY
Friday, June 15, 2012
9:00 – 11:00 p.m.

Otsego took the stage with a variety of instruments, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, violin, harmonica, piano, electric bass, and drums. Their textured folk rock instrumentation could have been improved perhaps only by substituting upright bass for electric.

By the second song, Otsego settled into a steady tempo, the strong bass drum inspiring foot stomps on every beat. Though a little tentative, you could tell they were having a good time. Even band members who were not mic’d were singing along at times, taken away with their own music.

The six-piece band demonstrated the breadth of their talent by switching instruments. The fiddle player picked up the banjo. He traded the banjo for the acoustic guitar. The harmonica player jumped on the piano. Four of the six sang.

Yet, the variety of instruments was somewhat undermined with a rhythm guitar-heavy mix. The color of accompaniment is in the banjo and harmonica. The intrigue of counter-melodies is in the fiddle and lead guitar. Partly the soundman is to blame, but better equipment, for example, using pickups instead of mics, would have helped.

The true potential of Otsego is in the song-writing and the vocals. Several songs wound themselves into a circular repetition of memorable and heart-heavy lines: “I would still take a bullet for you.”

The up-tempo songs featured back-up vocalists doubling the melody and shouting back, call-and-response style, approaching the Avett Brothers’ paradoxical mixture of violent cheer — that aggressive, almost dangerous, slap-happy drunken revelry. The highlight was the three-part harmonies on the ballads.

Otsego crafted their set well, ending with a genre-bending cover and a drinking song. The lead singer and rhythm guitar player went “Mutemath” at the end of the show, pulling out drum sticks and doubling on toms and cymbals.

Pete Sinjin and his band followed with a four-piece country rock set. The lead singer played acoustic guitar and sang with confidence about hard-won love: “My mouth is full of blood, but my heart is full of poetry.”

The bass player was solid and so was the drummer, although he could have backed off on the snare during the more gentle moments. The lead guitarist was a heavily bearded gentleman who had that desirable tone, gritty overdrive with bright reverb.

What set The Pete Sinjin Band apart was the lead guitarist’s work on the electric slide guitar. He could solo, play counter-melodies, accompany, and explore the soundscape with effects, all of it tasty and tasteful.

On the corner of 7th Ave. and 15th St. in Brooklyn, Bar 4 offers a conservative but solid list of beers on tap and hosts music events many nights of the week. It’s a cozy place and boasts a piano on the modest stage. Friends and family gathered on couches in the front while others lined the bar and stood in the back by the foosball table. Take the F or G train to 7th Ave.

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Otsego
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My Salon, A Thank-You (Part II)
March 11, 2010

Salon: An Evening Celebrating the Arts
Saturday, February 13, 2010
7:30 p.m.

Now for the humorous and charming conclusion of the Salon.

Mr. Hoppe continued the Valentine’s theme with a dramatic reading of a 1936 pamphlet by no-name Hugh Morris, entitled “How to Make Love.” The guide is as unlikely as it sounds, and it delivers exactly what you would hope: mockably out-dated advice about courtship, lacking sufficient details to live up its title. Mr. Hoppe’s reading had people laughing and gasping for air. He paused; he licked his lips; he unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt; he caressed the piano. He made everything that is frighteningly funny about the text in 2010 uncomfortably hilarious for everyone. A success.

Mrs. Walker Edin provided the audience with a seventh-inning stretch. Chairs were struck and an open space was made in the salon. She led the group in some yoga poses for expecting mothers. With right hands on our hearts and left hands on our stomachs, we breathed and energized and calmed. As the poses became increasingly difficult, some of the audience members tacitly competed to be the most flexible, especially the men. Mrs. Walker Edin’s demonstration of the poses was even more impressive since she was the only one who had the “handicap” of actually being pregnant.

After a short intermission, I picked up the guitar and played a song called “Love and Life,” which is the title song of the album I had the fortune to record in Ecuador in 2006. I wrote the song to get over my weakness for forgetting lyrics; in the song, I spit out words at Jason Mraz speed. My kind “fans” (i.e. friends) then requested “Red, Red” and “Love My Rock.” The first is a little more “country” and part of my on-going acoustic project. The second is a parody song I wrote for The Taste, a band project inspired by the great hard rock hair bands of the 80s. I’ve usually been a bedroom guitar player, but with the encouragement of a generous audience, I played and sang these songs better than I ever have.

Ms. Luttrell read a selection from her short story “Down in the Well,” which tells of the vapid life of Jeff, a young cowboy coming to terms with his mother’s death, his father’s projected rodeo dreams and his own fear of riding bulls. The phrase “down in the well” refers to the deadly situation a rider faces when the force of a spinning bull’s vortex pulls him under. With its natural prose, Ms. Luttrell’s story transported the audience to a small Texas town where a lingering desperation and fatality haunt Jeff’s life.

The western scene now set, Ms. Cherones and I led the group in an old-fashioned, campfire-styled sing-a-long with Stephen Foster’s classic “Oh, Susanna!”. Carrying on a Salon tradition, Ms. Cherones revealed her secret talent on the harmonica; I accompanied on guitar. Everyone sang. After several leisurely rolling choruses, we sped up, kicking the song into high gear. There were at least four “one more time!” calls.

Although this was the last performance of the evening, the party did not end here. And will not end here! Thank you to everyone who performed and attended. Let’s do it again soon.