Sunday, February 27, 2005

Flamingo



So as I've mentioned, besides his brilliant band with Julie, Teddi and Dan of Rock School, Eric has a side project with some other Rock School kids - Haffie, Matt Manser, Julia Ranier, and Dan Nitz. The name of their band is Flamingo, and they've just finished recording/mixing a six song demo called "Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires".

You get ten points if you know where that phrase orginates.

Okay, time's up, I'll tell you. It was the alternate title F. Scott Fitzgerald had chosen for The Great Gatsby.

Anyway, I got my first listen to the newly mixed CD yesterday and almost fainted. First of all, let me say this. I'm the world's harshest music critic. I may rave about my kids here, but there are plenty of times I'm dissatisfied and I don't hold back. I'm probably even too quick to criticize because these kids are such incredible musicians that I expect greatness from them all the time. I've been to Rock School shows where I leave on an almost magical high with a silly smile pasted on my face for days; but I've also been to shows where I've been pissed beyond belief at sloppy playing and/or bad, inappropriate set lists and I've even made nasty comments likening the shows to crappy suburban high school recitals. In other words, I'm no angel, even where Julie and Eric are concerned.

From the minute I heard the opening notes of Flamingo's CD yesterday, I had the chills. First of all, Julia's vocals...I can't even describe it. She's the way Norah Jones or Aimee Mann or even Natalie Merchant wish they sounded...with the sixties psychedelic soul of a Janis Joplin and Sandy Denny thrown in. You don't get that from her when you hear her doing covers for Rock School like Springsteen's Born to Run or Boston's Long Time. (Okay, I despise Springsteen and Boston so maybe that has something to do with it). But anyway, on this CD, Julia's voice is other worldy - she's fucking unbelievable.

And then you have the guitar players: Haffie, Matt, and Julia herself. These are three of the best guitarists in Rock School, apologies to the other Rock School greats because yep, there are many, but these three have a spectacular chemistry together. And I feel like a traitor saying this because my own daughter is a bassist, but Dan Nitz, who normally plays guitar, kicks ass on bass.

But most importantly - the song writing. It's fucking amazing! I tried to put my finger on their sound and to be honest, I couldn't, because it's so original they may be one of the few bands to be actually doing something NEW! It's fresh, it's modern, but there are influences of Zappa, Cream, and even the Allman Brothers... with a modern bluesy, jazzy twist. And the lyrics are also very, very impressive. But I think their time with Paul/Rock School and being part of his All-Stars and studying Zappa is what I hear the most - that unbelievable, intelligent musicianship and their tightness as a band. It's pure perfection. What's even more fun is that they are all such talented, well rounded musicians that on one song, they switch off instruments and some play glockenspiel, dulcimer, even trumpet.

Anyway, one of the Rock School teachers, Nero, heard the demo for the first time and immediately got Flamingo their first gig opening for his own band on March 19 at a really cool club in Philadelphia, The Fire. They aren't on the schedule yet because it stops at March 12, but of course I'll be posting updates here.

So that was my excitement for yesterday.

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