Thursday, October 06, 2005

smarty pants

I didn't get the call from Largo. But I'm going anyway.

Scott Amendola Band, Yoshi's, October 5, 2005: I'm in over my head, out of my element, whatever other cliche you want to throw at me. I'm a pop girl at heart touching upon other genres because of the presence and contributions of certain musicians.

I've seen Scott Amendola with the Nels Cline Singers, of course, as well as with Carla Bozulich's band for a striking version of "Masters of War" at the Fillmore last year. With the Singers, he's an amazing player, and I was curious to see how he and Nels might flip the frontman role in their eponymous bands. Lucky for me, Maudie and Trish wanted to investigate as well.

The Scott Amendola Band included John Shifflett on bass and Jenny Scheinman on violin, as well as the two aforementioned fellows. My only point of reference for Scott's music is his work with the Singers, and from the outset, this seemed to be a notably different affair. Sure, there were long, abstract passages marked by Nels's frenetic guitar licks, but overall, the music was much more melodic. Jenny matched Nels note for note on many sections, and they exchanged visual cues throughout the night. If there were an equivalent of a lead singer, it would've been the violin. Every time she played a longer passage, the violin seemed to control the stage; even Nels's guitar took a backseat to it. Also, Nels played a surprisingly prominent role in the group--not as much as he does with the Singers, but he counted off transitions within many of the songs. Scott himself got only one drum solo, though this is ostensibly his band. Highlights of the performance were a Mahalia Jackson song, as well as the penultimate tune, featuring Nels on lap steel, backed by a sexy, subtle beat.

In the last year, I've had many chances to see Nels in a variety of capacities: the Nels Cline Singers, Banyan, and now the Scott Amendola Band, not to mention Wilco. If I were a better music fan, I might have picked up some knowledge over the course, but in my singlemindedness, the biggest lesson I've learned is that Nels is the coolest cat ever. You really have to see how he handles the different levels of leadership and contribution, depending on the band. And in the process, he always retains his own style. I'm even more determined to make it to Largo on November 3, come hell or high water.

See also:
» i'll be back again
» i like jon brion. a lot. (part 1)
» Nels night

1 comment:

breaphene said...

I'd really love to see the different levels of leadership Nels displays, depending on the band. God willing, someday he'll realize that the space between the two coasts isn't just a pretend area that materializes when he tours with Wilco and then goes back into the ether.