This is CMJ week, but some islands of insanity do manage to survive here and there. Diesel Only Records, right here in Brooklyn, is the home of such local country and Americana luminaries as Laura Cantrell, Amy Allison, Neil Cleary, and Tammy Faye Starlite, and tonight they hosted a showcase for the latter three at the Lakeside Lounge in front of an appreciative crowd packed with musicians.
Tammy Faye Starlite (“that’s L-I-T-E, like the adjective”) started things off; late unfortunately… Her trademark mix of exhortations and debasement –it is country music we’re talking about here– brought the usual sinners to their knees while she sang of difficult menstruation, pubic deforestation, and of course Jesus. She did not shed her clothes, however, in deference perhaps to the solemnity of CMJ. As usual, her crack band of Mark Spencer and Rich Ferridun on guitars, Jared Nickerson on bass, and Louis Appel on drums, deftly propelled the set through songs and monologues.
Neil Cleary, who made his first appearances in New York as Hank Williams’s alter ego in the Hank Williams’ Lonesome Cheatin’ Hearts Club Band a few years ago, then became one of the cornerstones of the late, lamented 9C, kicked off his set with some solid rockers, backed by the omnipresent Mark Spencer on guitar, and Adam James on drums. Unfortunately, time was running out and I could not stay any further.
My next stop was Rififi for the weekly Starshine Burlesque. This edition was hosted by Rose Wood, whose fishwife routine is downright bizarre. Miss Delirium Tremens did her Chinese fan dance, all in reds and blacks; Jen Lux used I put a spell on you for a witches’ brew routine that did not rise anywhere near the heights of Julie Atlas Muz’s splendid –and morbid– version; the always ineptly funny Eric Hall displayed some real magic with mirrors and handcuffs; Little Brooklyn reprised her recent Rosie The Riveter; Creamy Stevens’s housewife abused pills, cocktails, and songbirds on her way to oblivion; and finally Amber Ray swanned her way in black feathers, then sans black feathers.
But what about the whoopee cushion, you may ask. That came later, at d.b.a., my usual restorative stop on the way to the subway. While I had a Stone porter and a Skullsplitter, singer and off-duty bartender Jackie, who was celebrating a friend’s birthday, was trying in vain to make use of her recently purchased rubber goods; finally, a couple of good-hearted patrons accepted to indulge in ersatz flatulence. Some small nervous tittering ensued.