Marc Broussard/City Winery/September 5, 2016
Singer/songwriter Marc Broussard is the son of guitarist Ted Broussard of the Louisiana Hall of Fame-inducted Boogie Kings. Marc Broussard was raised in Lafayette and Carencro, Louisiana, where he developed a taste for Cajun music and rhythm and blues. In 2001 Broussard was part of Y, a short-lived Christian rock band based out of New Iberia, Louisiana. He was barely 20 years old when he recorded his debut solo album in 2002. Broussard released the Bootleg to Benefit the Victims of Hurricane Katrina album in 2005, with all proceeds helping to rebuild Broussard’s home state. He then founded the Momentary Setback Fund in 2008 to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Broussard will release his seventh studio album, a covers album entitled S. O. S. 2: Save Our Soul: Soul on a Mission, on September 30, 2016, and 50 percent of the proceeds will go to a not-for-profit organization that works with the poor and homeless in Atlanta, Georgia.
With his long, brown, bushy beard, Marc Broussard looked as homespun as he sounded at City Winery. Gruff, burly vocals delivered a hickory-smoked slab of Bayou soul. Well-crafted lyrics were wrapped in a mix of funk, blues, R&B, rock, and pop, all distinctively southern and nuanced with a flare of small-town America sensibilities. Broussard’s husky thrust was tempered with emotional authenticity, so that even the lighter pop songs were powered by a degree of deep-gut gravity. Relatively unknown, even a cursory listen revealed Broussard as a buried American treasure.
Lianne La Havas/Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom/September 6, 2016
Lianne Barnes, known professionally as Lianne La Havas, was born in London, England, to a Greek father and Jamaican mother; she adapted her stage name from her father Henry Vlahavas’ surname. She was raised in Tooting and Streatham, spending the majority of her time with her grandparents after her parents separated. La Havas began singing at age seven, wrote her first song at age 11, and thanks to her multi-instrumentalist father learned to play piano and guitar at age 18. La Havas began her professional career by singing back-up vocals for Paloma Faith, then joined a short-lived duo called the Paris Parade, collaborating with future Elephant member Christian Pinchebeck. La Havas’ second and most recent album, Blood, inspired by La Havas’ reconnection to her Greek and Jamaican heritage, was released on July 31, 2015.
La Havas brought class and style to Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom, minimizing flash and staging for a simple, honest performance of voice and songs. Playing a hollow-bodied electric guitar for most of the show, she maintained a sturdy singer-songwriter approach to her songs, but with a soaring, soulful voice that transcended the genre. Her one cover song, “I Say a Little Prayer,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick in 1967, subtly recalled David’s intention to convey lyrically a woman’s concern for her man who was serving in the Vietnam War. Among the standouts was a jazz-inflected solo acoustic version of “Age” from her debut album. La Havas’ performance specialized in low-key easy-listening music for mature tastes, perhaps more appropriate for Carnegie Hall than a rock venue.
The Heavy/The Marlin Room At Webster Hall/September 7, 2016
Vocalist Kelvin Swaby and guitarist Dan Taylor became friends in 1998 when they worked at a clothing store in Bath, England. They bonded over a mutual passion for vintage rhythm and blues. Taylor was from a classic rock’n’roll background and became enthralled by Swaby’s world of hip-hop and sampling. Taylor heard Swaby sing, and they formed The Heavy in 2007. They hung posters around Bath advertising themselves as The World’s Fattest Twins and The World’s Heaviest Bastards, then realized they needed a proper band (and a proper name). They recruited bassist Spencer Page and drummer Chris Ellul. The Heavy’s music has been used widely in media, with their 2009 single “How You Like Me Now?” becoming the band’s signature song. The Heavy released its fourth and most recent album, Hurt & The Merciless, on April 1, 2016.
The Heavy successfully bridged rock and soul at The Marlin Room At Webster Hall. Opening with “Can’t Play Dead,” much of the music was rooted similarly in 1960s urban American music, but given a strong rock interpretation. Swaby’s full-throated vocals were husky and gritty, commanding attention even when Taylor’s guitar was crunching hard, funky, fuzzy riffs. There were few subtleties; although gentler pauses arose here and there, the biggest impact was generated in the rawer garage moments, when both musicians and audience grooved together to a ripping wave of sonic soul. The Heavy’s performance demonstrated how sometimes a British band needs to remind Americans of the richness of their musical legacy.
Cheetah Chrome/The Bowery Electric/September 8, 2016
Initially based in Cleveland, Ohio, guitarist Cheetah Chrome (born Gene O’Connor) helped draft the sound of punk in mid-1974 with the seminal but short-lived rock band Rocket From The Tombs. Teaming with vocalist Stiv Bators in 1975, Chrome and Bators formed Frankenstein, which became The Dead Boys when the band relocated to New York’s nascent punk rock scene in 1976. The Dead Boys split in 1979, although several times over the next decades Chrome reunited both The Dead Boys and Rocket From The Tombs. Chrome stayed in New York, playing on other artists’ recordings, performing as a solo artist and forming more short-lived bands. Chrome then underwent a mid-life change in the mid-1990s, relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, where he married, had a son, worked at a record company and recorded music that was more acoustic and even—yikes—country flavored.
A few years ago Chrome returned to New York and performed at downtown venues sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar. Tonight he returned to The Bowery Electric with a rock band and banged out the old time punk rock. Chrome opened with The Dead Boys’ best known song, “Sonic Reducer,” featuring guest guitarist Ross “The Boss” Friedman of The Dictators. Chrome sang almost all the songs in his set, but did not pretend to be any semblance of a vocalist; his voice has grown so hoarse over the years that it was difficult to hear the lyrics over the music. His presentation was more about style, passion and history. If anyone had forgotten the imperfect beauty of simple, speedy three-chord garage rock, Chrome was there with scorching lightning to reignite the fire. Far from polished, the band’s energy was equally scathing and scraping, just like the best punk rock was designed to be. For the finales, Chrome invited both Friedman and Bobby Leibling of doom metal band Pentagram to join him on a few songs. Overall, Chrome offered a valuable look back at the elemental fabric of punk rock history.