Words by: Dianna Hank
Images by: Jeremy Gordon
Scott Metzger, Skerik, Stanton Moore & Andy Hess:: 07.18.18
Le Poisson Rogue :: New York City
Le Poisson Rogue :: New York City
Check out Jeremy’s photos and full show audio after Dianna’s review.
“We’re going to start out in New Orleans and work our way up to New York… Because everywhere else is Cleveland!”
With this bold statement, paraphrasing Tennessee Williams’ famous quote regarding the “only three great cities in the United States” (including San Francisco), the “dark lord of the saxophone” also known as Skerik, kicked off Tuesday night’s show at New York’s joint music venue and multimedia art cabaret, (Le) Poisson Rouge. Joining him on stage in this all-star lineup were local Brooklynites guitarist Scott Metzger and bassist Andy Hess, as well as New Orleans’ own, drummer Stanton Moore.
While this particular group had never played together in this formation, each of the members have played with most if not all of the others in various iterations throughout the years — Metzger & Hess in Hola!, The 41 Players, Rumble Dogs, as well as plenty of other hometown gigs, Moore, Skerik & Metzger as FrequiNOT down in New Orleans in 2016, Skerik & Moore in Garage A Trois (who performed last night aboard The Liberty Bell, hosted by Rocks Off), Hess & Moore with Will Bernard’s Blue Plate Special, as well as some gigs I’m sure even the Internet doesn’t have record of. Clearly, their extensive performance histories with one another provided no doubt they would bring something special to the stage on Tuesday.
The band kicked off the show with Professor Longhair’s festive NOLA classic “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” complete with Moore utilizing a tambourine in lieu of a drumstick, to properly set the tone for the evening.
Continuing the funky New Orleans vibe, the group then borrowed from Robert Walter’s 20th Congress’ 2003 album Giving Up The Ghost with a song titled “Aqua Fresh.” In this groovy tune, Hess and Moore created a tight pocket over which Metzger and Skerik traded solos.
A jazzy number entitled “It Ain’t My Fault” by Smokey Johnson found Metzger bringing the volume and intensity down to a whisper, as the ever-attentive audience listened eagerly, savoring each note. Moore juxtaposed that quiet tenderness with bombastic percussive fills to finish the tune.
“We’re having a blast!” Skerik declared between songs. “We had a good soundcheck today, we’re gonna keep it rolling.”
Next up, the quartet played “Sock Full of Quarters,” their first WOLF! tune of the evening, from the band’s 2015 self-titled debut LP. Following this familiar track came another out of NOLA — The Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s “Who Took The Happiness Out?” The darker, even borderline spooky tone of this one led perfectly into the hard rock finish.
A 12+ minute version of Skerik’s “Serpico Waltz” saw the musician use effects pedals to make his sax sound like a shreddy, metal guitar as he traded solos with Metzger on what sounded like a “Whipping Post” jam. Moore showcased his skills with an extensive drum solo before bringing the volume and tempo down to segue smoothly into a beautifully delicate cover of Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.” To see Skerik (who can often be found screaming demonic utterances on stage) treat this tune with such tender, softness … well, Metzger put it best when he said, “That’s worth the price of admission right there!”
Borrowing again from the WOLF! catalog, the band covered “Humdinger” before another Robert Walter tune entitled “Don’t Chin The Dog.” This groovy funk song’s infectious bass line had hips shaking before the huge crescendo and tight finish.
Stanton Moore’s “Tchfunkta” showcased some solid bass and drum grooves before Jimmie Vaughan’s classic blues rocker, “The Ironic Twist.”
The final WOLF! tune of the evening entitled “Steve Miller” closed out the set in a noisy, aggressive fashion, leaving the already rowdy crowd hollering for more. After a bout of rousing applause from the appreciative audience, the band returned to the stage once more to finish the night with Stanton Moore’s “Sprung Monkey.” Despite having woken up at 4 a.m. in NOLA earlier that day, flying to NYC, sound checking for three hours and then playing a full show, Moore continued to bring his characteristic, unparalleled energy to this funky dance groove to end the evening on a high note.
While this may have been this band’s first time playing together, I can say with extreme confidence that I’m not the only one in attendance who hopes that it isn’t their last.
Photos by Jeremy Gordon
Audio | Taped by Eric McRoberts
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