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Beautifully bombastic


The Suicide Girls have brought bump 'n' grind one step closer to rock 'n' roll. Pushing the standards of traditional burlesque and augmenting it with punk rock, this troupe of punk pop tarts stripped and teased and copped heaps of attitude to a capacity crowd at Buffalo's Soundlab two weeks ago. Black electrical tape pasties, and a handful of risqué scenarios put the Girls into the altogether on their own terms.

            When the roadies began to cover the speakers and other stage valuables with plastic in preparation for the chocolate sauce finale, I knew it was time to step back a few feet. I'd seen enough t&a. Besides, I'm sweet enough. Openers from Florida, Bloom, are hopefully what the next generation of power-pop will sound like.

            Last Tuesday, Sonny Landreth blew into the Montage to a packed house. It always pleases me when a show this cool does well, because normally it seems my heartfelt endorsement for a band winds up being the kiss of death. Landreth's playing was simply amazing, his demeanor low-key and sincere. Torrents of notes flew from Landreth's relatively standard Marshall rig. Jaws hit the floor more than once as his left hand walked the nickel-plated tightrope and the right hand's digits fluttered and blurred like hummingbird wings.

            With Sonny's Louisiana boogie still burning in our ears and the Montage's Louisiana gator fritters burning in our bellies, my shutter buddy Liz, ex-Rochesterian and Lilly's Buffet belter Cheryl Laurro, and I traipsed over to a pre-war Berlin Bug Jar to dig The Dresden Dolls. The duo brought a keen sense of intimidation and wry humor to what appeared to be a somewhat disturbed reality. Pianist-vocalist Amanda Palmer tickled the ivories, occasionally adding a syncopated skip to odd measures, giving the feel of a dusty 78" skipping and spinning on a beat-up gramophone. The Dolls were wonderfully weird and hauntingly beautiful.

            It was the second time around for Fat Possum's Juke Joint Caravan starring T-Model Ford, Paul Jones, and Kenny Brown at The Montage this past Thursday. It was the rough 'n' raw blues from the Delta, baby. Good and loud, too. The last time Jones was in town he leaned a little on the r&b side. This time it was all gritty, gutbucket funk with Jones playing essentially the same searing solo on every song.

            T-Model Ford seems to have mellowed and cheered up a little since last time. He picked and grinned the blues and strode his guitar through classic blues stompers in spite of the god-awful flanger effect he has adopted.

            Then there was Burnside protégé Kenny Brown --- a rarity on Fat Possum records, because he's young and white. This man positively burned up the slide guitar with Burnside's grandson Cedric putting some serious muscle into the drums. This man's music got under my skin quick. None of the acts had bassists. Who needs those uppity meatheads anyway?

            Stuck the Veins' Hollywoodland in the dash and jetted up to Toronto during the night to avoid border tie-ups. A person with a lot of tattoos frequently suggests, "Search me and my car." Destination: Lucha Va Voom, a spectacle of authentic Mexican wrestling with beautifully bombastic burlesque routines. Brought to you by the people that brought you GWAR, this is gonna be huge, I tell ya. Highlights included Los Minis Superstrellas (midget wrestlers) and a routine by the amazing Miss Cardinal Cyn that was so intense not one of the roughly 30 pictures I shot were in focus. Maybe I was just a little distracted.

            I spent this Saturday, once again, at the Montage for The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The band came out stripped-down and bluesy, slowly adding additional members with each tune. They weren't as brassy and Dixie-fied as I remembered, but they were a lot of fun, and encouraged plenty of audience call and response and even a conga line of sorts. It was simply beautiful American music, and hopefully, there's more on the way. Stay tuned.