Shakin’ Street/The Bowery Electric/Dec. 12, 2018
Born in Tunisia, North Africa, and raised in Paris, Fabienne Shine started writing songs as a youth. She became a model and actress as well as a musician, and reportedly often jammed with Led Zeppelin‘s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. In 1975, Page reportedly encouraged Shine to form and lead a band. In 1976, she formed a band called Speedball, soon to be renamed Shakin’ Street after a song by the MC5. In 1979, as Shakin’ Street prepared to record its second album. the guitarist sold his last guitar to buy some heroin, so the band fired him. Ross “the Boss” Friedman of the Dictators joined Shakin’ Street for the album and the revamped band toured Europe and the US in 1980, opening the “Black and Blue Tour” for Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. In 1981, Friedman left Shakin’ Street to start a new heavy metal band, Manowar, in Aubirn, New York, and Shakin’ Street disbanded shortly thereafter. Shine launched a solo career in 1995, and Friedman played on her second album. Various lineups of Shakin’ Street have reunited periodically since 2004; the current lineup consists of Shine, Friedman and several members of the latter-day Dictators.
More than 40 years after the original band’s formation, Shakin’ Street performed its first ever New York City concert at the Bowery Electric. This New York version (Shine, Friedman, guitarist Freddie Katz, bassist Dean Rispler, drummer JP Patterson) launched into the hard rocking set with a signature tune, “Solid as a Rock,” and continued with both older and newer songs from Shine’s catalog. The songs featured Shine’s vocals as the centerpiece, backed by classic guitar-based melodic metal arrangements. Despite all the flashy guitar work, Shine commanded the small stage like an ageless rock star (she is 74 years old). For the finale, she invited Albert Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult to join Shakin’ Street on stage to sing and play cowbell a cover of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
Bikini Car Wash/Otto’s Shrunken Head/Dec. 14, 2018
Lizzie “Steelheart”Taubeneck moved to New York City from Wilmette, Ill., and became a theater student and hair stylist. She sang in several local music acts, including Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, and landed a bit part in the 2011 film, We Are the Hartmans. Since 2010, however, her passions have unfurled as lead singer for Brooklyn’s Bikini Carwash. The band presently consists of Steelheart, guitarist Cameron Majidi, bassist Andy Shaw and drummer Carrie Kamikaze. Bikini Carwash released a self-titled EP in 2014.
At Otto’s Shrunken Head, Steelheart sang pop melodies while the band powered the songs with fast, loud punk drive. The charismatic vocalist commanded the stage, but also the floor as she crawled and spun on the ground between audience members. Meanwhile, Majidi’s stinging guitar leads, Shaw’s thick bass lines, and Kamikaze’s brash percussion pummeled forth, contrasting Steelheart’s light and lilting vocal textures. Bikini Carwash successfully paired the hook-laden elements of pop with the roar of punk’s wall of sound into a unique marriage.
The Rousers/Sidewalk/Dec. 15, 2018
Bill Dicksonand Tom Milmore played together in bands while in high school in Weston, Conn. Dickson then attended art school in New York City and fell in with its glitter and glam rock scene while Milmore studied audio engineering and played bass in a band in Connecticut. By 1977, Dickson and Milmore were playing New York clubs as the Rousers (not to be confused with another band with the same name in the Netherlands around the same time). After numerous personnel changes, Sal “King” Capazucca joined the New York band on drums. The Rousers split in 1982 and the musicians joined other bands until the band regrouped in 1999. In 2001, the Rousers released an album, Playing the Rock and Roll for You. The Rousers’ most recent recording is a single, “Take a Ride to the Lower East Side” with Dina Regine on vocals, released on Oct. 19, 2018.
At Sidewalk, the Rousers played vintage-styled rock and roll with a wry twist. Their lyrics and between-song banter were not designed to generate belly laughs, but entertained in a clever, light-hearted manner. The band started its set with its seasonal song, “Christmas Party,” then moved on to non-seasonal compositions like the lively “City of Girls.” The set’s bouncing rhythms fueled the jolly spirit and had audience members dancing. By the end of the show, Dickson returned to the holiday theme by turning on the Christmas lights in his Christmas-themed suit. The Rousers’ buoyant affect made for a merry Christmas party.
Brian Dunne/Coney Island Baby/Dec. 16, 2018
Raised in Monroe, New York, Brian Dunne studied music and ultimately relocated to Brooklyn, New York, to launch a career as a singer/songwriter. Before long, he found himself booked to open for many folk and Americana artists, including the Stray Birds, Pat McGee, Joan Osborne, Delbert McClinton, the Secret Sisters, Will Hoge, Rosanne Cash, Robert Earl Keen, and others. Dunne released albums in 2015 and 2017, and his most recent product, The Timber House Sessions, a live EP of stripped-down versions of previously released songs, was released on March 16, 2018.
Derek Cruz of Jesse Malin‘s band curated a program called Songs and Mistletoe at Coney Island Baby featuring various little-known music artists. Brian Dunne came on last, performing to a late-night audience of perhaps 15 listeners. The 29-year-old strapped on his acoustic guitar, opened his tenor voice and showcased an impressive collection of introspective lyrics and folk-styled arrangements. The songs had plenty of heart and Dunne projected vulnerability, hope and resilience in his delivery. This heart-on-the-sleeve approach and expressive lyrics ought to gain Brian Dunne a substantial audience.
Seth Kessel Band/Otto’s Shrunken Head/Dec. 16, 2018
Seth Kessel is a New York native known as the Brooklyn Troubadour. He has played lead guitar for several local artists, but also performs occasionally with his own band. One night he may be playing rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly at a Brooklyn bar, and on another night he may be dressed in a suit and tie playing jazz at a private event. He often plays guitar in Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers as well as Jessy Carolina & the Hot Mess. Although he has played on other musicians’ albums, Kessel released his own music as Seth Kessel & the Two Cent Band in 2013 on an album entitled In the Golden Days.
The Seth Kessel Band performed at Frank Wood’s Wind-Down Sundayseries at Otto’s Shrunken Head, and performed a vast array of roots music. Kessel sang and played guitar, accompanied by musicians playing upright bass, saxophone and drums. The high-voltage set included obvious strains of prohibition-era swing, finger-picking blues, classic honky-tonk, and twangy rockabilly. Kessel was quite a guitar virtuoso, and easily shifted his playing to accommodate the diverse genres of the song. He was also a strong vocalist, with a rich tone and broad range. The only question is which genre will lead to his breakthrough to a larger audience.