The Scene – Phoenix Best Music Poll Winners at Lupo’s

Wednesday August 12th I heard last minute about an early show happening at Lupo’s from Johnny Lingo. The Rustic Overtones were scheduled to appear, utilizing three local openers, all of whom had just won an accolade in The Providence Phoenix’s annual Best Music Poll, The Johnny Lingo Band, winner of Best Male Vocalist, SEXCoffee, Breakthrough Act of the Year, and The ‘mericans, listed as the Best Music Poll Winner.  An unplanned night on the town during the work week, I made it a relatively short stay and took off before the headliner began.

I’d seen Johnny perform a number of times with Fungus Amungus, but this was the first time I’d the opportunity to see his solo work, Johnny Lingo and Chase Leonard began a set of piano driven poppy blues for the gathering crowd:

Johnny Lingo

Johnny Lingo

Opening the set, the JLB performed a new upbeat, yet self critical song, “Coward.” It was a well written catchy song that had me tapping my feet. Keeping the mood upbeat Johnny broke into a high energy number on the keyboards while Chase laid out the back beat to “More.” By “Mister Can You See Me,” it was evident the duo had been playing together for quite some time and are fantastic at building off each other musically. Johnny sang his strong vocals to another catchy song that had me shuffling in place, struggling to steady the camera. Showcasing his chops at the piano Johnny played a stirring version of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” before Chase joined on drums, then broke into their original “Family Man.” I started out high energy and slowed down a bit to stress the vocals about halfway through, followed by a building crescendo into a softly lulled ending. Both musicians played their hearts out for the final number, “Signs” with Johnny delivering powerfully on the microphone. It was an impressive set, I only wished they had more time to show more of what they have to bring to the stage. At least I’ll have two opportunities to see them in Providence soon, October 29th at AS220 and November 7th at The Penalty Box, with Gravity Works.

Breakthrough act of the year, SEXCoffee, was next to stage performing their own brand of indie grunge rock. Consisting of Ruth Charbonneau on lead vocals, Sharlene DeNardo on bass guitar and vocals, Paul Campbell on drums and vocals, and Rick Gallego, SEXCoffee always puts on an intriguing live show. I had the chance to catch three songs between conversations and trips to the bar:

Opening with their original, “Du Bist Ein Schlumpf,” after a slow band introduction from Ruth, the band quickly opened up. I next captured “Tasty,” from their “The Morning After” EP. Sharlene really impressed on the bass, as well Paul knocked the heads off his drums. Ruth delivered vocals powerfully while Rick chopped out some good rhythm playing, with a few quick melodic solos. Last I caught “Sally Strikes Back,” a rocker, also included on their latest EP. Overall it was a great short set from SEXCoffee and wet my whistle for their CD release a few weeks later. Their next big show a Halloween party at The Blackstone on October 30th, stands to be a fantastic night of music, costumes encouraged.

Waining wearily on a work night I stayed for a few songs of The ‘mericans’ set, an Americana roots rock act, and had the chance to capture “Stonewalls:”

Consisting of Chris Daltry, Michael Moore, Chris Monti, Pete Lima and Eric Smith, The ‘mericans, and impressed with good meaning full lyrics and harmonies. I dug the variety of instrumentation and how tight they were musically. Enjoying the show but dead tired I regretfully made my way out pretty early into The ‘mericans’ set, I’ll look forward to catching them play out again once they return from their gigging hiatus to record.

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