Many times I’ve said that Lisa Bianco is the best guitarist you’ve never heard and she proved it again Friday night at a Big Mountain Entertainment showcase at Mercury Lounge.
Because of my bout with pneumonia I didn’t see some of the shows I had tickets for in September, October, and November. I also had to postpone my trip to Puerto Rico and my mother’s and my three-day trip to St. Thomas. I did get to go earlier this month and if you’re interested in my St. Thomas trip report and photos, you can see them here. The trip was one cure and this night of straight up rock and roll with all very tight bands was another great cure for what ailed me.
As always the Mercury Lounge had great sound. And because it’s an intimate club, it has great sightlines. I was there early enough to get a seat on one of the side benches. The club never totally filled up (although it was crowded) so I was able to sit the entire time – no one blocked my view. Each band had their crowd who was there just to see them so each set was fun and
Lisa Bianco and The Fury opened the night with a few new songs (“Revenge” “The Daily Grind”) and songs from her latest album, Momentum (“Breakin” “Erase You”). She always does a great cover or two and this time it was Blondie’s “Dreaming.” One of the high points of all her shows (ever since I saw her in her Red Jacket days) is “Sun Glare” and this time was no exception. It’s a showcase for her guitar playing and during the break she invited a friend up (Timothy Dark) to perform a rap during the music break. There was one moment when I got all teary (one of the love songs). She can move me, make me want to dance and sing along, and just sit in awe of her guitar chops and beauty. The Fury is Ari Sadowitz on bass and vocals and Ben Bynum on drums and vocals.
The Jay Everett Band is Jay Everett on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Dom Rivera on lead electric guitar and vocals, Adam Biener on electric bass, Tom Ng on drums, and Brielle Ocot on keyboards and vocals. Ng was very good – actually all the drummers all night were very good – but Ng’s youth was surprising for how well he monitored himself. The group that popped into my head while listening to the Jay Everett Band was Orleans. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t say they sounded like Orleans except that they would not sound out of place on a pop, country, or rock station. The set was high energy and joyful. At one point Everett asked everyone to dance with the person next to them – except with his (future) wife. One of the highlights was “Front Door Man.”
The Aster Pheonyx Project is Aster Pheonyx on electric and acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Carolyn Marosy on lead electric guitar, Audra Thomas on bass, Yvette Scott on drums, and Vanessa Anderson on back-up vocals. Pheonyx also sent out love to her future wife and invited her onstage to play the shaker on one song. Pheonyx has that soulful rock voice that reminds you of Melissa Etheridge or Joan Jett. The centerpiece was one of their originals (‘I watched you go/you let me go’) and a cover of K’s Choice “Not an Addict.”
At some point during either this set or the next this guy came close to the stage and he did not look out of place. Short hair. Black rimmed glasses. T-shirt with long sleeved shirt underneath. But then he started leaning his head into the monitors. Tried to get the performers’ attention. Tried to grab onto a broken guitar string and pull it. And then he saw something on the floor, bent down, picked it up, looked at it, and ate it. The people all around me were all giving each other the WTF? look.
New Day Dawn is strong-voiced Dawn Botti, who used to be in Slushpuppy (they performed “Runaway”) from 1998 to 2003 and when the band broke up she concentrated on her family and using her law degree. And then she decided to quit her day job and devote full time to music again in 2008 with Gary Szczecina (drums and Botti’s husband) and PJ Angeloni (electric guitar). Botti also plays rhythm guitar and there’s a bass player whose name I can’t find. One of the songs was about following your dreams and another about marriage counseling, so she’s not afraid of putting her life out there. During one of the songs (‘you are my everything’) she inserted the beginning verses of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and it worked really well.
Love Assassin won first place at the Amateur Night at the Apollo on September 28th, which is huge. That’s a tough audience for anyone – even for a blue-eyed soul/rock band. The band was formed by Dan Avery (lead vocals, acoustic guitar) and Eric Menist (lead guitar), who left the band just before this gig. The other band members are Will Frazier (drums), DP Leal (electric bass), and Pat McQuillan on electric guitar and keyboards. McQuillan played the guitar behind his back for one solo but the band is not about tricks but, like everyone else that night, was tight and fun. Someone with a deep voice yelled out, “I want to have your baby,” so that was good for a laugh and some jokes for the set. An encore was demanded of them and since they were the last act of the night they obliged.
What a great night of rock and roll. I felt young again and enthused. And maybe when I can breathe better I’ll start singing again.
By Carene Lydia Lopez