The Monopoly pinball machine is not new (it came out in 2001), but that was the first time I saw one. Tucked away in the corner by the backstage door at Southpaw, it glowed and glittered in the darkened room, but its most spectacular feature –a sort of unconcealed Easter Egg– is the digital ticker display on the Electric Company’s billboard, which streams an endless series of nutty slogans, some game-related, some not. “feel the thrill of an extra ball” caught my attention right as I walked in, and I could not help staring at such profound thoughts as “quality cntrol approved this message”, “Monopoly pinball–not vaporware”, “the electricity running this display was recycled from unlit dots in the previous message”, “the next message is the next message is…” and “watching this message will make you watch this message”. “participate”.
But enough about pinball, which I haven’t really played in over 30 years anyway… Southpaw was running very late, as it usually does. It was a good thing in that it allowed me to catch the entire set by The Tombstoners, a side project of Les Sans Culottes’ mastermind monsieur Clermont Ferrand, aka Bill Carney. They answer the not-so-bizarre bizarre question “what if the Rolling Stones had been a country band dabbling in rock & roll?”; a Charlie Watts look-alike on drums does not hurt either… With a sound that borrows heavily from Dead Flowers and Honky Tonk Women by way of George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, and Joe Ely, they play the kind of rollicking honky-tonk music that confirms Brooklyn as the Country Capital of the Tri-State area. Their lyrics are characterized by strong leitmotifs made of repeated lines or phrases in clusters of two, three, as many as six or more, that assume the role of the chorus in more traditionally structured songs. Very effective, and very economical to boot!
Winterville, Southern exiles in Brooklyn, play exquisite fiddle, guitar, and banjo old-time music behind the lead vocals of Craig Schoen and Laura Comerford. If “mellifluous” hadn’t acquired the dismissive overtones that it has, it would be the perfect word for this terrific combo, who do not play out nearly often enough!
The Jack Grace Band now boasts a female backup singer, Daria, the new Mrs Grace. In a set that mixed new songs with old songs in new clothing, Jack Grace expounded, over his lead guitarist’s Santana-like lines, on his familiar themes of alcohol, cigarettes, and automotive vehicles (but not dogs, surprisingly for a band with such country roots!) and closed with his obligatory cover of Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line.
Southpaw was running very very late, as it usually does. It was a very bad thing, as there were only about 20 people left in the room by the end of Jack Grace’s set. And it was almost 4 a.m. by the time I made it home.