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Maynard And The Musties At Muse And Music, Thursday, May 12th, 2011

At the third Muse And Music program, we went country. Joe Maynard is originally from Tennessee and as his Pa told him, "in Detroit they make cars, in Nashville we make country." And amen to that.

The ten song set was a revelation of sorts. Despite the breathtaking excellence of the album, the sound was a touch on the generic side, live they move forward between Naa Koshe Mills on fiddle and Dikko Faust on trombone. I have never heard this put together before: it is counter-intuitive for a country band and it is beautiful and powerful.

There was no waiting for the set to kick in, the very second number was the Too Many Funerals highlight "Cowboy Of St. Bartholomew" -a lovely story of requited love between two homeless people  that is simply as wonderful as you can imagine. Joe has written short stories in the past and this has a simple tenderness that is almost Chekovian: it seems very open ended, and its place comes directly from the way Joe positions as love being a gift of greater joy than even a roof over your head and the sweet melodic song brims with kindness. The tell my ma I'm doing fine has not an ounce of irony in it. If you recall, I asked Joe why he was a pessimist but I couldn't have gotten it wronger if I tried. The man is right, he is a pragmatists who takes love as he finds it.

The next stop was something of a mistake, a weak cover of George Jones "She Thinks I Still Care". Sung by Naa and a workout for any one, I would have loved to hear Joe tackle the vocal workout. Joe sounds like Jimmie Dale Gilmore with a little less South in his voice. Maynard lived in 28 different cities growing and the years have made his voice less country even when he sings. When the twang comes out it is modified and so the country sound becomes urban and legend.

But the band, a real good one, rights itself fast and the first half ends with a singalong to a new number called "Rock My Boat".

My Q and A isn't particularly good this time. Joe's Muse is Robert Hodge of the Mechanics And Tradesmen Society. Hodge came from  Scotland and became a member of the General Society. Hodge was a book binder and publisher. He published the first Directory for New York City. I got a little stuck on the question of the future of book publishing.

The second half of the set was equally as good as the first, especially a jam out on "Cheap Cigar". I don't think enough can be said about how the trombone changes the musics' direction -it is so well integrated into the sound, neither a substitute for guitar nor an intrusion in its space, its a lovely modulated punctuation of melodic power.

The band are playing Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B, Saturday June 3rd, the club co-owned by East Village hero Eric Ambel. I remember being a huge fan of Ambel in his Del-Lords day. He has also played with Steve Earle and Joan Jett. "Rosco" is also producing Joe's next album, which Joe thinks will be a giant leap forward. Which begs the question, a giant leap to what? When you don't even bother to play "Pine Box" in your set you have, what we call in the trade, a catalogue already. If the next album is as good as "Too Many Funerals" it will be good enough.

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