The Hipp Pipps/The Map Room at the Bowery Electric/Nov. 10, 2017
Originally from a town outside Boston, Matt Langone began playing guitar as a youth after seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. He played the New England circuit with the Peytons and the Trademarks until he relocated to the New York area. Since then, he has played lead guitar in several local rock bands, including the Gotham Rockets, the Trash Mavericks, the Cynz and the Waldos. For the past few years, his main project has been the Hipp Pipps with bassist Kevin Shaw (formerly of the BMTs and presently in the Wraycyclers) and Frankie Pipps (presently in the Pipptones). The Hipp Pipps released a self-titled album in 2015.
Zoe Stark presents a monthly concert series at the Map Room that frequently features the Hipp Pipps. On those occasions, such as tonight, the power trio fire straight-forward rock and roll from all engines. The Hipp Pipps’ performance tonight was a roots rock set with no hyphens or hybrids. The set included a Chuck Berry cover and an Eddie Cochrane cover and about 10 original songs that sounded like they could have been written by those same pioneers. The energy was higher and the rhythms were speedier than the songs would have been a half century ago, but the songs were just as pure as the sounding fathers of rock and roll would have liked them. Langone’s gritty vocals contrasted Shaw’s pillow-talk vocals, but the driving spirit united the two vocal sides of the Hipp Pipps. If New York’s future scene ever experiences a rock and roll revival, it will begin with the Hipp Pipps.
Benyaro/The Bowery Electric/Nov. 10, 2017
Ben Musser was schooled in jazz, rock, classical guitar and voice, and furthered his musical growth by immersing himself in artist communities in Nashville, Austin and New York City. Musser played guitar and drums for several bands before dedicating himself to his current indie-acoustic roots project. He started Benyaro in New York City, but the band currently is being nourished in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Benyaro performs most frequently as a duo where Musser sings and plays guitar, kick drum, hi-hat, shaker, and harmonica while being accompanied by an upright bass player. Benyaro’s third original full-length album, One Step Ahead of Your Past, was released on Sept. 8, 2017.
At the Bowery Electric tonight, Musser used his two hands to play his acoustic guitar, although his right hand would occasionally swing away from the guitar to slap a high-hat cymbal. His right foot played a bass drum. Sometimes his head would tilt down so his mouth could blow into a harmonica that hung from his neck brace. He sang soulful, rootsy songs that hearkened to early blues, and yet were jittery and off-kilter enough to qualify as indie-rock. Between songs, Musser joked with his sole accompanist, Leif Routman, who played an upright bass and sporadically provided vocal harmony. The result was a curious blend of organic, earthy songs that sounded equally inspired by Americana and indie music.
Crazy Mary/Otto’s Shrunken Head/Nov. 12, 2017
Guitarist Charles Kibel played New York’s rock club circuit with Stumblebead in 1988-1990 and with the Dead Heroines from 1996-1998 before forming Crazy Mary in 1998 with drummer Nick Raisz, a coworker at the Bronx Zoo. In 2002, Crazy Mary recruited the assistance of violinist Walter Steding, a pioneer of the 1970s no wave movement. High energy vocalist Emma Zakarevicius joined in 2007, and became the band’s new focal point. Bassist Armand “The Wizard” Milletari joined in 2013. Crazy Mary’s seventh and most recent studio album is 2016’s, Ripples of Chaos.
Crazy Mary is a recurring attraction at Frank Wood’s Wind-Down Sundays series at Otto’s Shrunken Head, and tonight performed as part of the Five Nights of Wood celebrating promoter Frank Wood’s birthday. Crazy Mary is a curious band, in that the quintet played rock and roll but did not play it straight. Kibel’s guitar chords sometimes took an unorthodox scale, or Steding’s fretless violin changed abruptly from sweet to atonal. Meanwhile, Zakarevicius jumped, twirled and swirled non-stop to the band’s primal/tribal rhythms, reminding the audience that even with these flourishes of heady experimentation, Crazy Mary is a party band that inspires some rock and roll dancing.
Oz Noy/The Bitter End/Nov. 13, 2017
Guitarist Oz Noy started playing Beatles songs and Israeli songs at age 10 in his native Israel and moved to bebop jazz, blues, pop and heavy metal by age 13. By age 16, he was playing with top Israeli musicians and artists. By age 24, he was one of the most established studio guitar players in the country. He was also in the house band on Israel’s top-rated television show for more than two years. Noy arrived in New York in 1996, and since then has played many residencies, particularly at the Bitter End, where he plays in a trio or quartet most Monday nights. Noy’s band changes almost weekly, but often includes the top tier of New York session musicians, including Anton Fig, Will Lee, and Bernard Purdie. Noy has released eight studio albums and six instructional videos; his most recent album, Ozone Squeeze, a collaboration with keyboardist/vocalist Rai Thistlethwayte and drummer Darren Stanley, was released on Sept. 15, 2017.
At the Bitter End tonight, Oz Noy led a trio that included keyboardist Brian Charette and drummer Eric Kalb in a smooth blend of instrumental jazz, funk, rock, blues, and rhythm and blues jams. Together, they locked into grooves as funky as James Brown or the Meters and as smooth as George Benson or Wes Montgomery. Occasionally, Noy’s virtuoso guitar work was as fiery as Jimi Hendrix and as bluesy as Stevie Ray Vaughan. Noy used some effects, but never to the point of distortion; his harmonically inventive fret work led to entrancing sonic textures without much help from the pedals at his feet. His fast and tastefully complex finger work was the centerpiece of each composition, yet on every song he switched to rhythm guitar to allow his musicians to share the spotlight and improvise spontaneously. The set was rock-jazz magic.