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Li'l Mo Better Blues

Twang went the strings of my heartL Li’l Mo Passin And The Monicats
















A couple of weeks ago I was at the Lincoln Center concert with Jahn Xavier (I’m writing up an interview for publication soon-ish) when Monica Passin dropped by to say hello to Jahn. Who? That’s what I asked Jahn who said she was a great singer with the Monicats and played the Treehouse at 2A -Tom Clark’s club, all the time. I should check her out.

I did.

“Li’l” Mo reminds me of the Debbie Harry that sang “Love At The Pier”. Monica came out of the early 1990s twang scene (it brought up old 97’s as well if memory serves). Indeed,s he was a member of a band called The Twanglers and her voice had a light flavorness but never sounded Southern. After leaving the Twanglers, she formed the Harmonicats and eventually the Monicats. Last year she dropped her fourth album.

This is a New York Centric flavored rockabilly, retro Americanaish country sound. She should have been playing at Lincoln Center . And she certainly does have the songs to do it. Many self penned. A song  like the very nearly perfect “Lovely Miranda” is so New York it should have a 10001 zip code. Sweet, calypso, soft swaying rhythms, horns. A great song. On the 2012 Whole Lotta Loving, she follows “Lovely Miranda” with “Three Cool Cats” -that’s the jukebox mentality of somebody who should be a rock writer. It harks back and forward at the same time. The second song on the album “Little Heart Attacks” sounds like a Patsy Cline outtake in search of her Owen Bradley -not the voice really, the voice is New York and maybe a little too light (though to Monica’s credit she doesn’t try and fake it)  but still, it is not timeless, it is a sort of countrypolitan smartiness.

I am trying to say she plays period really really well. Listen to the title track of her second album, 2000’s Hearts In My Dream. A pretty great song where she does something so wonderful, she stretches her syllabels like Iris Dement, but she doesn’t let it lilt. It doesn’t sound like she’s from Arkansas. And if you didn’t know it was a George Jones original, you would completely believe it was an original.

I want to interview Monica nbut I’ve been holding off because I wanna catch the Monicats live first but now catch this:

Yesterday – She played 2A and I was at the VMAs

September 14th -Monica is playing Long Island and I am at Arlene Grocery’s watching her pal Jahn.

October 11th – Monica is playing upper New York, and I am at Radio City Music Hall watching Tony Bennet with a friend.

But I do know Monica has presence, just meeting her for a minute you could see it. So you do this. Either Spotify or buy the three albums still around   Hearts In My Dreams, Whole Lotta Lovin’  and On The Moon albums, I’ll track her down and interview Monica and we will meet back here soon.

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