White man playing keyboards

For a lot of people, one Maneri is too many if that one is Jim, the infamous keyboard mad man maniac and Facebook human incendiary who hates Donald Trump more than life itself.

 But I've always been partial to Jim because when the entirety of Comfest wanted to string me up and lynch me like a Christmas turkey, ol' Jim Dandy would stop in and give me two Crazy Jim thumbs up. Much appreciated, Maniac Music Man.

 Plus once on a day when my back was out thanks to two wanderin' vertebrae, the boy interrupted his jog to help me drive home, set me up on my couch, get my electric fan and then went into my kitchen to fetch me an iced water and even found a nice cup I never knew I had. He mos def eased my suffering. People, I was hurting.

 I never forget a kindness.

 So when I heard three Maneris were playing together at Filament, a Franklinton performance space, I had to go. Rare event, that: Jim with bassist brother Phil and his young son Vincent on percussion and exotic drums.

 Yet I remind you: this little review isn't a returned favor, it is truth.

 I had a feeling Jim and Phil would go avant-garde. Intuition correct: these two brothers – one plucking his deeply resonant stand-up bass, the other zooming and dissecting electric and acoustic pianos – played cat-and-mouse across the universe, making sounds and musical statements emanating from this tortured earth to other worlds spinning unawares.

 I couldn't've been happier. The adventure was happening in a small and intimate room with a dozen earthlings willing to suspend terrestrial beliefs in gravity. The music floated.

 Jim would play an aggressive, unruly horde of notes ascending and then sustain the last one; Phil would sort of mirror him, then throw in a few aces of his own ideas, challenging his keyboard-rocketing brother. Brother would then answer with a descending star cluster of black-and-white keys, like a pair of lovers tumbling down stairs clutched in a fight, to paraphrase Carl Sandburg's love poem to jazz.

 Sometimes on the acoustic piano, Jim would stand, reach in and pluck the strings by hand. It fit.

 Unfazed Phil would meet him at the bottom of the stairs, conversationally letting his bass embrace Jim's last phrase, then the two would go off in a completely different direction. They mirrored, they countered, they conflicted and they strayed. The beauty of it – and make no mistake, this was one helluva beautifully performed brotherly act and completely spontaneous – was in the journey. The pauses were profound because you realized, this was entirely made up on the spot, unscripted and whatever crimson skies they careened across, well, you felt damn lucky to have witnessed. Ephemeral? Yes. And at the same thrilling – no exaggeration.

 Uh, before I conclude, I have to say Phil's bowing of the bass with echo was orgasmic. Period. Wow.

 The son came on stage halfway through their hour, his rat-a-tattle rhythms and scrapings bringing the sky pilots back to earth. Still, the safari continued. I would love to see 'em at Dick's Den for a solid two hours. Helluva trapeze act, The Magnificent Flying Maneri Men.


 At the India Oaks neighborhood bar and grill off of Indianola, I have seen Sean Carney and the Joint Rockers do incredible things. On occasion the guitarist Rick Collura augments the night and makes the take even that much better. Otis Rush's All Your Love ain't gonna find a better soloist than Mister Rick. But put him on top of a specially rearranged version of Albert Collins's Better Get Your Business Straight where the bass and drums are super-locked-in to the heaviest '50s stripper groove and the horns are blowing down the walls of Jericho? And you have got literally the best, hardest, soulfull-est R'n'B sexy-meets-gritty electric blues this town will ever hear.

 I'm tellin' ya, on a good night there is no juke joint better than the one these guys are in.


 Country music on a Sunday afternoon outside with a bunch of little kids jumpin' up and down inside one of those huge inflatable 'Despicable Me' things? While the parents relax and kibbitz about the green tomatoes grown right there in the Franklinton, uh, Amateur Green Tomato Space.

 Jeff German and His Blankety-Blanks were supplying the Americana-straight-up-country sounds and fellow urban hayseeds, the country was good.

  How dawg-gone good is it to hear a dawg-gone well-played cover of the George Jones giddy-yapper, The Race Is On which not only has a lead singer in Jeff Gee who can play a lean-mean-and-sweet Telecaster lead but also a pedal steel player in Matt Wilson who adds more country color than a Buck Owens sparkly Nudie suit?

 Dawg-gone dang good, dadgum!

 It's to German's credit his originals didn't let him down. Which is not an easy thing to do when you're playing classics like Six Days On The Road and Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison. Sit and Think ("this town needs a bar/and I need a drink/and a little dark corner/to sit and think") and Long Road To Nowhere show him to have promise as a writer and he's a plenty decent singer.

 Any local country-Americana band that can do their own fine version of Eddie Cochran's Summertime Blues, Elvis's Mystery Train and the Band's The Weight is a band I wanna ask out on a second date. Plus I suspect you can drink to 'em.

Appears in Issue: