nestled downtown in New York on the corner of Varick and Hudson,
is like a second home to me. Cozy and dark, it is fragrant and
unassuming, and leaks good vibes out the walls. This evening's
Dank endeavor was kicked off really strongly with three members
of Yolk (featuring one of the band's two newly instated lead singers,
Cris Noel, on guitar, with Jim Lomonaco on bass and Jim Loughlin,
normally on drums, on guitar). The tunes were quite out of character
considering Yolk's usual blistering blend of ska-funk and punk
poison. But the ensemble proved their versatility, with Noel,
honorary First Grrrl Dankster, laying down some serious emotive
howling, and facile strumming. Mixing the musical content as well,
the trio took their set into varied territory: a Dylan cover,
an Ani DiFranco cover, as well as Noel's own powerful creations,
all layered over Lomonaco's smooth bass and carefully interwoven
The big event
of the Wetlands show was Al Solo. Mixing in his characteristically
unique contribution to Dankness, Al hit the stage with a sampling
outfit and a few pedals (in contrast to the largely stripped down
gear thus far). Firstly, he cranked out a bouncy and almost hip-hoppy
version of the moe.favorite, "Moth," head a-swivel and drum machine
bass thundering underneath Al's fiery picking and hilarious disco
bleeps. The marriage of acoustic guitar (bastion of folk sentiment)
and irreverent, ultra-now technology made the statement truly
Al, whose influences range as far as the frequencies on his many
little electric boxes. Next, moe.brother Chuck joined Al for a
rousing rendition of what can be called 'one of moe.'s big hit
numbers,' "St. Augustine." Finally, Al, true to his multifarious
form, played a low-key rendering of "Windfall," from current straight-up
Midwestern country-rockers, Sun Volt, and finished his set with
a disjointed, low-fi, spaced-out Beck-esque assessment of conformity,
called "What Will the Children Think?"
introduced me to Gibb Droll, whose playful manner sublimates into
a frenzy of intensity once he gets behind a guitar. His steady,
pungent approach and incomprehensible riffs added flourish to
the evening, and more genre-hopping fun came about when the stage
was occupied by Chuck, who, despite his halting facade, gets steamed
up but good in the presence of other stellar talent. Gibb and
Chuck trotted out the steamy bluegrass standard, "Salt Creek,"
with lightning, sweat-inducing exactitude. Chuck did a gorgeous
rendition of the standard, "Jackaroe," with wailing, gripping
vocals. And, joined by Jim Lomonaco on bass, the three strolled
out a ribbony smooth version of Miles Davis's "All Blues."
To pay homage
to an expansive musical tradition, the end of the New York Danksters
show got Max and Tom, Al, David and Dave for a final end jam of
Grateful Dead covers. "Cover" doesn't much do justice; as a novice
and non-Deadhead, I can say that the renditions were rich and
mesmerizing without referent. "Friend of the Devil" lurched deliciously
into a narcotic space of sleep and temptations. "Jack Straw" was
a warm, uncertain and meandering embrace. A magic moment rose
out of the sure basslines, and Max and Dave's gentle harmonizing.
in the back of the room, in the dark behind all the slowly swaying
onlookers, I looked over to the only area of dim light to my right.
In that glow stood Brendan O'Neill, a solidly stacked, salt-and-pepperheaded
and bespectacled feller, intently gazing up and down, twiddling
a knob here and a knob there. Then he'd stop. And listen. And
twiddle. Being moe.'s soundguy, I'd gotten used to the scene.
Right then, he was drawing a roar from relative silence, and the
mix was bewitching.
incredible right now," I said looking at his vague, contently
concentrating face, quiet thunder and soft prairie rain pouring
off the stage, somewhat at a loss for words.
replied, then paused. "Cool!"
The Way of
the Dankster is modesty at all costs.
born to be a minstrel, to walk the streets alone...to plant the
seeds of change and then move on...and never see them grow"
P Donnelley & D Gans
TO 3 June
5 June >>