Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Two Man Gentlemen Band in Lafayette, Indiana

I was a little unsure about whether or not I was ready to make the 100-mile (in each direction) drive from Urbana to Lafayette, Indiana, to see The Two Man Gentlemen Band. But after consulting with several of our graduate students, I realized that, of course, I had to go -- when was I going to get to see these guys again?

So I weathered some serious weather on I-74 heading into Indiana, but having forgotten that I would be transitioning from Central to Eastern Time, I couldn't let that get in my way. I had to get to The Black Sparrow. With the lightning still flashing in my rearview mirror, I made my way to what is actually a charming little pub in downtown Lafayette, across the river from Purdue University.

The Gentlemen had not started yet. As I ordered my first Pabst Blue Ribbon beer of the night, they descended from their dressing room, and we had a fond reunion. They were looking dapper. Andy Bean has discovered the magic of hair product and well-manicured sideburns -- he was ready to wheel and deal, to wine and dine, to pay to play...

The crowd was enthusiastic. There was the right amount of energy in the room -- a few people shouting things out to harass the band ("Are we accepting heckles tonight?" Bean asked the Councilman at one point. And at another, he asked, "WTF are you laughing about? I'm making jazz up here!") but not so many that the music suffered. I was seated at a table full of folks who had not seen them before, and they were near instant converts, buying a couple of TMGB discs at the intermission.

The band's playing was terrific. There have been a few changes since last I saw them. Bean has switched from the tenor banjo to a National steel plectrum guitar -- same tuning, but he uses a pick-up and ends up with much more of a jazz guitar sound on it. Although I was hoping that the banjo would make an appearance at some point, I definitely thought that the switch to the tenor guitar was for the better. The sound was crisper and cleaner, and Bean's excellent playing could really come through. He was reminding me of the mighty Matt Munisteri (see my posts here and here) at times -- I was impressed. Bean also has traded in his kazoo for the mouth trumpet, which he played with aplomb. (Have no fear, though: Fuller Condon keeps the kazoo tradition alive.) The Councilman was playing excellent bass throughout, and the energy was just right for the night.

They had just passed their 140,000 mile manniversary in the minivan that afternoon -- "It's so great to find a purely Platonic manfriend to travel around the country with," Bean told us all. A fair amount of the material was from their new CD, Dos Amigos, Una Fiesta.

The setlist went like this:
  • Let's Make a Sandwich
  • Me, I Get High on Reefer
  • Prime Numbers
  • Big Strong Man - sung by The Councilman
  • Chocolate Milk - a jazzy spelling song
  • William Howard Taft - Bean channeled Sam Cooke at one point
  • Dinah
  • Leisure Class
  • Into My Minivan
  • Drip Dryin'
  • They Can't Prohibit Love
  • There's Something in My Trousers
  • A Gentle Stomp - hot playing
  • I Like to Party with Girls
  • The Hindenberg Disaster
  • My Baby's Off the Market

    --Set Break--

  • Going Into Business
  • Can't Give You Anything But Love
  • Rabbit Feet - with new John Cougar Mellencamp ending
  • Wine, Oh Wine!
  • There'll Be Time for Lovin'
  • Yessir, That's My Baby
  • Stuff Your Ballot Box
  • Franklin Pierce
  • Jewel of 45th Avenue
  • Chinatown, My Chinatown
  • War of Northern Aggression - different melody
  • I Can Get Drunk & I Can Sing Songs
  • Fancy Beer

  • ENCORE: Folsom Prison Blues - with guest vocals from famed Lafayette producer Dustin
  • Corn Liquor

There is an impressive about of Two Man music up on YouTube. This one, though, captures the live energy quite well:

1 comment:

3shells said...

This sounds fabulous. Thank you so much for introducing me to these guys, way back when. They're playing in Northampton in September, and I won't miss it!