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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Life Is a Cabaret in a Blender


Bernadette Quigley is press agent to some of the most unique rock musicians performing these days. You want to have fun, experience something different and diverting, have your minds blown? Check out the fantastic bands this woman represents.

Tonight, it was back to the now-trendy lower east side and to The Living Room, on Ludlow Street. I love those rooms (bar in front, rock cabaret behind the curtains) with their inspired sense of streamlined, somewhat retro decor (they even installed a photo booth) and the performance space's acoustics that are to die for. The last time I was invited to a show by Bernadette, it was to see Spottiswoode and His Enemies (previously blogged about here). This time, it was to see the band, Life in a Blender.

Bernadette confided that she couldn't represent talent she didn't believe in or wasn't personally impressed with. Her taste couldn't be more discerning from what I've seen and heard so far. (Bernadette also represents Pinataland, which I have yet to sample). I joined her and her husband (songwriter, producer, musician Don Rosler) for tonight's performance.

Life in a Blender has been together for 25 years and their songs, largely written by frontman and lead singer, Don Ralph, are both funny and poetic. Ralph, who appeared in thick-lensed eyeglasses (and a grey wig) reminded me of Steve Allen, not just physically, or in the way he grins and has an easy laugh, frequently self-amused; but in terms of being a clever songwriter and funny man rolled into one and successful in being both.

Highlights of the evening included the songs "Tell Me I'm Pretty" (the opener) and "Mobile Wash Unit," a sing-along that was used in the documentary film, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox. Ralph has co-written song with members of other notable rock groups like They Might Be Giants and The Waitresses.

The numbers frequently have a very raw, punk energy, somewhere in the vicinity of Talking Heads and Devo, perhaps mixed with a little rock jug-band a'la Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. Strings (Rebecca Weiner Tompkins on violin, Dave Moody on cello) add an ethereal touch (even when Don is screaming over them with fever-pitched rock'n'roll vitality). Al Houghton on guitar, and Mark Lerner on bass, give good back-up vocals as required. Mark's son, Lukas, replaced Ken Meyer for this performance (as if he knew each number by heart).

Highly recommended, Life in a Blender's music can be downloaded at Amazon's Life in a Blender store, and you can buy their cds or download from CD Baby.

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