Perhaps the chilly drizzle kept a lot of people home. Or maybe it had something to do with Black Weather Shaman, and some kind of mystic hex. Regardless of the true explanation, natural or supernatural, not many people showed up at the Monterey Club on Wednesday night. This was too bad, because the bill featured a couple of the area;s most entertaining live acts as well as a legendary out-of-towner.
The night began with Black Weather Shaman growling and stomping out their bizarre, twangy moonshine music, sans pants. The first note sent frontman Cecil Lunsford into some kind of possessed shimmy that left him in only his clingy boxer briefs and a silly, white derby hat. The set was well played, but having seen this act before in more packed and intoxicated rooms, the result was underwhelming. There was too much space. That band's groove needs something to stick to -- sweat, smoke, filth, and there wasn't enough of that happening for the band to really work its magic.
The tragedy of the evening, though, was that there wasn't enough happening crowd-wise for legendary New York folkster Paleface (who tours with his darling drummer Mo) to do what he set out to do, either. These days it's all about a fun live show for Paleface, and unfortunately the soggy crowd wasn't in the mood. So when the duo kicked off its set with a few rocking numbers requiring crowd participation, the effort fell flat.
Personally, I didn't mind this in the end, because it forced him into his slower stuff, which I was hoping to hear. "Traveling From North Carolina," "Brooklyn Girl," and "She's So" comprised a beautiful string of mid-set tunes that really shifted the mood into a well-deserved attentiveness from the crowd. From there Paleface kicked into an upbeat new song and finished out strong with "I Can See the Light" from his latest release, The Show is On the Road.
As Paleface headed out the door to change out of his sweat-drenched T-shirt, lots of freaky-looking people starting climbing onto the stage. This was Everymen, a swamp-rock six-piece, plus a member of Viva Le Vox, who'd be accompanying the band on saw and mouth harp. Everymen played the set of the evening. The band is, by nature, a fuller-sounding act than the previous two, and that's just what this scarcely populated room was calling for. With all of those guitars strumming, feet stomping, and voices belting out impassioned choruses, they barely needed an audience at all to crank out a rousing jam.
After a strong showing of their anthemic, punk-inspired roots music, their set rang out to a close with swelling weirdness. A trance-inducing jam built in intensity as members of Black Weather Shaman joined in with horns, auxillary drums, and voodoo dance moves. Meanwhile, lead vocalist Serg lit what appeared to be a rifle converted into a torch on fire in the middle of the club. The five of us who remained in the room watched with interest until Serg was escorted outside. Shortly afterwards, the music went the way of the rifle-torch and the small crowd dispersed.
Personal Bias: My seat on the couch during Black Weather Shaman positioned my face about three feet away from, and exactly in line with, Cecil Lunsford's bulge. I'm not sure what sort of bias this created.
Random Detail: Paleface's tour bus is his minivan, and he is the driver. Did I mention that he is a legend?
By the Way: Paleface is playing at Propaganda tonight, February 26.
-- Travis Newbill