Sunday, November 15, 2009
And you will know them as… The Unpronounceable…
I remember getting a phone call around midnight on some new year’s eve, had to be around 8 years ago now, from a friend who had played a gig with a band I was in at the time called “AJ Cope and the Yankee Peach”. I was out in Phoenix at the time with my at that time husband. I was expecting the normal – Happy New Year’s call and a report of how the gig went without me. Instead of Happy New Year’s greetings the first thing out of her mouth was – “You have to see this band! I believe they are called something unpronounceable?”
Jorge Beefalo, Chet Beefalo, Chip Beefalo and at that time Chuck Beefalo, made up the Beefalo Brother’s better known as the band, The Unpronounceable. And, they became one of my favorite bands to go see in NYC.
I am much more pickier about my music than I am my movies. I can pretty much throw any bit of B, C, or Z grade awful movie on the tube and get through it for the most part. But, music. I will walk out on bad music. And, bad music – not in respect to their style in particular, but a shoty, ½ assed or scattered performance.
Now you know where I am coming from.
I had been acquainted with the infamous Frank Wood while working with the Yankee Peach. He is a promoter and booker with most of the live music bars in NYC. And, he had found The Unpronounceable and wanted the world to see these guys.
I have a special place in my heart for rock-a-billy. And, a special place for the upright bass. And, love when I hear a song, then realize it is a cover with the band’s own special “sauce” thrown into. This band had it all.
So, first off, musicianship. Everyone, except I believe the drummer, played all the instruments. And, it wasn’t one of those situations where you saw in the liner notes or a point of bragging during the performance. After a few songs, everyone would trade out instruments like they were passing a favorite dish at dinner. Pass the upright bass, please or maybe they should invest in a Lazy Susan? And, again, this was not just for show, each person played the instrument in their hands as of they had only studied that one their whole life.
They also know how to write a good song. I can compare them to master chiefs, the right amount verses and chorus with just a pinch of a mini-jam to add flavor. Like Big Star without the pretension. If you take a listen to their older stuff, you can hear that they were really trying to perfect their recipe for the good song. It just got better throughout the years.
And, they know how to make a cover song sound like their own. And, I got to experience this first hand doing the “Hooternanny” at the Pussy Cat Lounge Rock Club. It was a “bitch” night of sorts, where female lead singers/singers from the NYC rock scene were invited to come and sing a couple of cover songs with a backing band. And, the backing band was the Unpronounceable. Now, they would do a straight cover it you preferred. But, the call I always loved was, “So we have some ideas on how to do this. Can you see this ballad as uptempo?” Or, my favorite, “this pop song more bluegrass?” And no song was too much for them to at least try. I asked to do “Whipping Post” one time. If I remember correctly, Whipping Post has to have at least 7 people playing different instruments for it to work. These guys said it was going to be difficult, but they would try. They did just fine. My favorite one I sang with them was probably “Dream On” with a banjo and sped up slightly and a much more blue grass feel.
And, they use an old style microphone. It’s very sexy.
Last Wednesday, I was given a chance to see these guys one last time. They had broken up for 18 months, Mr. Frank Wood asked them to get together to play for his birthday. And, they did. I shortened/canceled all plans to see these guys that night. I was magical.
I walked in to Otto’s Shrunken Head and it felt like not a year had passed since I left this scene.
I couldn’t believe I was seeing these guys play again. It was awesome. And, it seemed like not one day had gone by since they played. They swapped instruments, Jorge’s voice was the same, the songs were performed to almost perfection (their drummer was the only challenge for them, then again, he had some large shoes to fill and had not been playing with them very long from what I was told).
The show got done and I got to catch up with all of them. Hearing about their kids or new kids. Their lives now, where they are going. Then, they al had to go to get back home to relieve their baby sitters. I realized how much time had passed, gathered my things, said goodbye to go back out to the world that I now live in. A little bit happier for the moment.