Ended up at Blues and Biscuits in San Francisco, cool spot right in the heart of SF tourist land. Stage is down in the basement, circular tables, candles, low ceiling. Pretty classic. Not a ton of people there on a Friday night, maybe 30 or so. Nagy playing a mix of blues standards ("Backdoor Man," "In The Mood For Love") and originals, which have had some air play on XM radio. Hi tunes had some nice chord changes and melodies, not just 12 bar blues. Nagy a shredder for sure, had that Fender Strat sound down. Backup band was tight. Drummer was off the hook. At the end of each tune, he'd jump off his stool at the end of each track, springing up a good 3-4 feet off the ground. Cracked me up every goddamn time. The best was when the band cleared out for him to solo and he took it into the club, leaving his drum set and playing on everything: seats, table tops, wine glasses beer bottles, pipes on the ceiling, anything. Didn't catch his name but he was super talented and fun as hell to watch. Overall, good spot. Recommend the grits highly.
Virtuosity isn’t a term that should be thrown around lightly, but Eldar’s reputation lived up to prose surrounding his playing. Fun night at Jazz Alley, which was looking very festive with icicle lights garlanding the balcony and ornaments behind the stage. He shared the stage with two musicians who were probably twice his age, Todd Straight on drums and Dave Gapteen on bass. They were like the elder (Eldar?) statesmen, backing him up. Seemed like both were new to some of the tunes, which was cool, love to see players fresh on a piece of music, discovering where it can go on the spot in front of an audience, although Eldar did say he’d been playing with the drummer since he was eleven.
Pretty diverse set, showing his range across genres, including some ragtime/stride playing, a Radiohead tune (“Morning Bell”), an Irving Berlin tune (“What’ll I Do”), a couple pieces in crazy meters, and closing with the opening track on his most recent record Breakthrough called “Point of View Redux.” The thing that’s striking about his playing is the classical influence. You can here it in his solos and phasing. If yr a piano aficionado, definitely worth checking out his set tonight.
Fun show of sing along covers, a little Darius Rucker “Wagon Wheel,” Bob Dylan “It Ain’t Me Babe,” Mumford and Sons, Waterboys “Fisherman Blues,” Lumineers, Simon & Garfunkel “Mrs. Robinson” and of course “Wild Rover.” That was set one; set two started with cocaine songs. Hennessy super likeable with full voice and compelling eyebrow movement. Tilton tore it up on fiddle, really rounding out the sound. Niklaus Drakul on bass holding down, getting some slaps in during “Mrs. Robinson.” Damn they pour a good Guinness there, taking the time to let it settle halfway before pouring the rest.
Was billed as one of the greatest drummers and didn’t disappoint: school was in session fer sure. Really a monster player. Crazy kit, including two snare drums, a synth pad, a hand drum and lots of cymbals, toms. Mesmerizing to watch and hear. Rest of the band kept it real, super pro. They’ve been playing together for decades and it showed. Felt like a sound from a different era: jazz fusion at its finest. Lots of fun moments during the set. At point got the whole crowd clapping along to 15/8 time or 7 1/2 as it were. Keyboardist Tom Coster playing very inventive accordion for a couple tunes, only using one hand, letting the other create tremolo effect, almost sounding like harmonica. Very emotive playing. Guitarist Vinny Valentino, super fluid playing. He and Smith did some Indian vocalizing, 32nd notes with vocal cords, and Valentino also doing some singing of his solos, pretty amazing. For encore, Smith asked the club for an ironing board and played final piece using just brushes, getting minimal inventive sound out of the set up.
These guys play another show tonight; if yr a fan of ridiculously proficient jazz fusion, check it out…
Moon Hooch is #acousticEDM. Lotza energy, lotza fun. Two saxophones holding it down. Novel sound, fresh, not like anything you’ve quite heard. Drums big, almost always with that signature EDM beat, four on the floor, and then some big fills. The saxes blended great, usually with one bass saxophone which held down the low end. Instruments filled the hall nicely, some wack delay effects on the saxophones that reverberated around quite tripped out. Can imagine them in a subway stop inciting raves which is where M. Doughty saw them. Or at the Knitting Factory. Hope these guys keep finding an audience.
M. Doughty as three piece playing all Soul Coughing tunes. That’s rare apparently --great article/interview in Seattle Weekly that explains the dealo. Fans were out fer sure, happily dancing to all their fav Soul Coughing hits: “Super Bon Bon,” “True Dreams of Wichita,” “St. Louise Is Listening,” “Janine” and more. Cool arrangements, a little different on each one, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, turntables, keyboard, samplers, etc. Backing band was great: Catherine Popper on the upright bass, Pete Wilhoit on the drums. Songs found their groove and didn’t let up. But most of all it’s about his voice: it was phat in the mix and filled up the hall with his weird inflections, poetry slam cadence and signature quality. Fun show.