Sep 15, 2016 07:01 PM EDT | Mike Greenblatt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Vaudevillian is Bringing Satan Down on its Busted Flat Records debut. Managed by the Bad Taste Music Agency out of Ontario, Canada, featuring Jitterbug James on vocals, guitar, carzoobamaphone and whistling, Piedmont Johnson on vocals, upright bass and bull fiddle plus Norah Spades on vocals, kazoo and washboard, their merch counter sells pictures of real life carnival freaks and geeks from back in the day of off-road dime museums and medicine shows. This is where 1920s ragtime meets 1950s rock'n'roll.
They dress like hillbillies. In hearkening back to the days of minstrel shows, they're resurrecting a style of music that went out of fashion in the 1930s...but they're serious enough and good enough to have busked in the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans for more than mere chump change.
With help from pianist Dan Edmunds on five of the 14 feel-good, dance-happy, whiskey-drinkin' tracks, The Vaudevillian lives up to its name in emulating a long-ago and far-away jumpiness that has all but disappeared. If you've watched Boardwalk Empire, you have an idea. They didn't call it The Roaring Twenties for nothin'! Jug-band stomps, a little rural blues, a little jazz on the improvisational side (but not too much), a little hokum and a whole lotta love makes this theatrical presentation exquisitely delicious.
From the "Broom Shooter" opener on through "Sweet Honey Thighs" and that "Dry Bone Shuffle," the alternating vocals and odd instrumentation keeps one soulfully satisfied like an archeologist finally finding that rare gem. They like to "Grind So Fine" to the "Bootlegger's Blues." Despite only recognizing one song ("In The Jailhouse Now" the 1928 hit by Jimmie "The Singing Brakeman" Rodgers), the over-all ambiance here will most assuredly put you in the right frame of mind for some all-night choogling.
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