I Wanna Be Your Kazoo!

“I wanna be your kazoo!” a member of the audience shouted at Erika Simonian in the middle of her set at Galapagos Thursday night. She was busy intertwining said kazoo with her microphone cord, to hold it in place for the right moment, at the CD release party for her new CD “All The Plastic Animals“. On stage with drummer and bass player, Erika can clearly rock –but we knew that already from her work with the Sprinkle Genies. Whether she needs to, or should at all while doing her solo material, is doubtful. Not that any of it was any less than very good; even under less than perfect circumstances, Erika’s extraordinary voice carries the day. Perhaps it was the big, high stage with curtains, or perhaps the vast industrial hangar feel of the bar room at Galapagos, or just the fact that the band is a very recent project that still needs tuning, but the songs felt less intense, less emotional that at her recent solo shows, or especially the few times she played as a duet with her former Erics and Week At The Lake co-conspirator Todd Satterfield.

Happily, the CD does recapture beautifully the more intimate feel of those live performances. It is without a doubt just as satisfying as her terrific 2002 debut solo CD, “29 1/2“. I shall certainly have more to say about it in the future.

Debby Schwartz started the evening with a short solo acoustic set, full of her trademark laments of discontent, sung over delicate guitar finger-picking and strumming in alternate tunings (which eventually caused a string to snap with a loud twang as she was retuning it).


A short hop on the L train, and I arrive in time for the memorably named duo Scorpio-Thunderbolt (aka Richard and Jennifer) at Sidewalk. Surrealistic vocals in English (mostly), Swedish and French over fast –sometimes frantic– guitar strummings with echoes of Wild Thing and reverb-laden cavalcades of surf licks. The lyrics evoke images of Salvador Dali, René Magritte and Paul Delvaux running wild in incomprehensible landscapes dotted with leather T-shirts and vampires (in Hoboken), and shoes and ships and sealing-wax … well, not quite sealing wax yet, though I do firmly expect pigs with wings any day now…

From dada to roots, and last stop for the evening, Trina Hamlin, solo at the Living Room. Trina is very busy, she’s on the road constantly and does not play in New York as often as she used too –our loss, their gain– so it was a special treat to see her in the new home of her old haunt, the Living Room. This set focused mostly on older material, including the beautiful Jacaranda Tree with Sam Shaber on backing vocals, the show stopper “from the steamy swamps of Minnesota” Down To The Hollow , closing with back to back covers of the Beatles’ Oh Darling and her unforgettable a-capella version of Jimi Hendrix’s Angel.

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