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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meet Spottiswoode & His Enemies

Disco dj Buddy Beaverhausen eschewed his West Village/Chelsea haunts to go down, down, down to the refreshed, regenerated Lower East Side on Sunday, Halloween eve, for a little bit of live, raw rock'n'roll. New York-based rock band, Spottiswoode & His Enemies, performed at the chic, little, crunchy space, The Living Room, 154 Ludlow Street. I sat with my friends, Bernadette Quigley (the hardest working press agent a band can have); her husband, Don Rosler of Rosler's Recording Booth (Don Rosler music available on CD Baby, check it out) and cabaret critic for Edge New York and Bistro Awards, Kevin Scott Hall (who interviewed Jonathan Spottiswoode recently in Edge).

The 7-member rock band astounded (three of whom are openly gay (psst, it's Tony, Kevin and Candace)). The band is composed of: Jonathan Spottiswoode on vocals, guitar; John Young on bass; Tim Vaill - drums; Candace DeBartolo - saxophone, clarinet, flute, vocals; Kevin Cordt - trumpet, violin, vocals; Riley McMahon - guitars, mandolin, lap steel guitar, banjo, glockenspiel, percussion; Tony Lauria - piano, organ, accordion; wonderful together. Their sound is a unique, sometimes redefining, catchy, intelligently written, frequently brilliant style of pop that I settled in to listen to and enjoyed fully right from the opener.

"His voice is especially gravelly tonight," Bernadette whispered gleefully about front man Jonathan Spottiswoode, who also writes most of the band's music. Think kind of in the same ballpark as Tom Waits on the gravelometer. But I loved when Jonathan let out his magnificently atonal howls. My God, no wonder he's gravelly! I don't know if he has nodules on his vocal cords yet, but they're otherwise on their way.

The Brit-born American singer, dressed in a suave Bohemian jacket and scarf motif, moves like Jagger but sometimes does the Joe Cocker spazz as well. Very kinetic-asstastic! Song styles range all over the place. Rock, jazz, blues, bosa nova, folk ballad and any combination of the above plus more. And the lyrics are clever and just a joy to listen to. The New Yorker wrote, "Jonathan Spottiswoode... writes astringent ballads and groovy pop songs with equal aplomb." So there.

Last night's show was the last for their residency at The Living Room and, not surprisingly, it was packed. Ms Quigley assured me Spottiswoode with frienemies are now going on hiatus (hopefully brief) with future dates to be announced. The band has been together for 13 years and their recently released album is Wild Goosechase Expedition. (Love that name!) That title song opened the night's set, full of fun sound & visual effects, not to mention silly, macabre limericks for Halloween. Their number, "Chelsea Boys" (not part of that set) is already a gay Christmas fave. You can listen, download, play and stream the song, "Chelsea Boys," on demand on MySpace. Buy the music, catch the act, I swear they're poised for a breakthrough. Don't miss out!


  1. fantastic article. I am a huge fan of Spottiswoode and his Enemies. And have seen them perform a lot. Surely they are one of the best bands in NYC.

  2. One of the best shows of the year, and the blog was a great next-day chaser. Thanks!

  3. "Surely they are one of the best bands in NYC." Maybe internationally?

    "One of the best shows of the year, and the blog was a great next-day chaser." Thanks, Don, glad you liked.

  4. Spottiswoode & His (fabulous) Enemies are true originals with a unique sound. Love 'em!