LIVE: The Malone Brothers @ The Egg, 4/14/12 (A Slight Return)

Review and video by Daniel Hogan

I just heard about this concert on Wednesday before the show, and after the great experience I had seeing Joan Osborne play in the Swyer Theatre a couple of weeks earlier, combined with my love of Dave Malone’s old band the Radiators made me want to attend this concert. I asked three different friends if they wanted to go, but they all had conflicts, and momma doesn’t like live music, so I loaded fresh batteries in my camera, put in a new SD card, put on my jeans and Radiators T-shirt. I headed down to The Egg, bought a ticket and also renewed by membership to The Egg.

The theater was maybe half-full when the Malone Brothers took the stage promptly at 8pm. The audience was mostly older, with a sprinkling of grey-haired hippie holdouts, as well as peeps that were once hippies, but now look like Jerry Vale fans. Knowing the Depends Generation was well represented, The Egg staff wisely allowed an intermission, and then manufactured some equipment problems in the second set to make sure the older men didn’t miss much of the show.

Most people know Dave Malone as the guitarist and sometimes lead vocalist with the Radiators, who broke up last year. Tommy Malone is best known for his vocals and guitar playing with the subdudes. Both have deep roots in the New Orleans music scene and possess a strong repertoire of originals and covers that have a sound that could be called Delta Cajun Blues. The brothers have distinctive vocal and guitar sounds – Tommy’s voice being smooth and mellow compared to his older brother’s Dave’s whiskey rasp. There was a similar dynamic in their guitar playing, too, Tommy having a rounder sound compared to Dave’s dry Fender sound – think of Mick Taylor and Keef, and I think you’ll get the idea.

A crack rhythm section also backed Dave and Tommy with Erik Golson on bass (he got a great sound out of a pawn shop prize Teisco Del Ray bass that weighed about four pound!), and Ray Ganucheau on drums. Ray is great young drummer, and when Tommy was introducing him he noted he had, “Coke boogers older than Ray!”

The band started off with the song “I Can’t Read Your Mind,” beginning a night of mostly mid-tempo pentatonic blooze-rock songs. People were taping their feet and nodding their heads, and in the living room-like setting of the Swyer Theatre, folks settled in for the ride. Next came a great version of “Jefferson Tate,” and the ultimate Cajun redneck anthem, “Barnburner.” “Let’s burn down the barn, boys, let’s have a little fun…”

Things started to pick up steam as the band played “Roll Me Over,” and a smoking version of “Loo-Z-Ann” to end the first set. Almost as memorable as the music was interplay between the brothers and the crowd. Dave took regular nips of wine during the show (he would finish the whole bottle in the second set, getting even looser), while Tommy lamented his sobriety, saying at one point, “I guess my life is better now?” Another time, Dave was setting up a music stand with the lyrics to the next song, he said, “Gee, you think I would be able to remember the words to the song?” and someone from the audience shouted “Get a teleprompter!” To which he replied, “This is a Cajun teleprompter!”

The second set was even better, featuring a beautiful cover of Neil Young’s “Birds,” a melancholy “Fat Tuesday” by Tommy, a song that was featured on the HBO series “Treme,” “King Earl,” “Lucinda” and a couple other songs I can’t remember. By mid-way through the second set, the more adventurous peeps were dancing in the aisles, while the rest of the folks were dancing in their seats, smiling with heads bobbing in time to the music. Ending the second set with the Hooker boogie beat of “Sad No More,” the crowd came to their feet and gave the band a well-deserved ovation.

For an encore, the brothers did a duet of “On the Dark Side of the Street” and later brought the band back for a run through a Sam & Dave tune, the name of which slips my feeble mind. The audience got up and headed home, feeling satisfied they’d got more than their money’s worth, some wishing the band had CDs or other merchandise to buy.

Overall, it was about two hours and 15 minutes of foot-tapping music – some happy, some sad – played by a band of professionals who know how to have a good time!

Fred Rudofsky’s review and Andrzej Pilarczyk’s photographs at Nippertown

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