Thursday, June 23, 2011

Live Review - 6/22/2011 Deadly Gentlemen at Passim

I spent a lot of time in my review of their latest album Carry Me To Home talking about the unique vocal style of the Deadly Gentlemen, and I can honestly now say after seeing them live: I didn't get it.  Their unconventional technique is a mix of rapping / talking and singing / harmony, but rather than borne out of an inability to sing (as I previously suggested), it's an exploration of the psychedelic properties of the vocal instrument.  Imagine the surrealistic poetry and relentless rhythm of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" over dense melody and harmony as performed by some of the most talented musicians in the Boston acoustic scene, and you get some of the idea.

Which isn't to say it's all high-falutin', because Deadly Gentlemen are FUN.  The crowd was completely into it, especially after some of their punchier numbers like "Police."  When they announced "one more song," it seemed like they had just gotten up there; they were so entertaining, the time flew.

Most excitingly, frontman / banjo genius Dr. Greg Liszt suggested that the quintet might get a residency in Boston, playing weekly gigs at a club starting in the fall.  The Punch Brothers did this, and it helped to solidify their tightness as a group as well as allow them to experiment with anything from Bach to Radiohead.  Given that the Deadly Gentlemen features Liszt (most known from Crooked Still) as well as young turks Sam Grisman (also plays bass with his dad David Grisman's band), Dominick Leslie on the mandolin, fiddler Mike Barnett (who I saw with John McGann at Cantab), and charismatic guitarist Stash Wyslouch, they could be Boston's answer to The Infamous Stringdusters or the Punch Brothers - an uber-talented group that's constantly redefining acoustic music for the new millenium.

Check them out if they come to your town!

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