LIVE: The Catbirds @ the Ale House, 1/19/13

The Catbirds

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Denise Borden

If you missed one of the best rock and roll shows this area has ever seen, here are some suggestions for how to gain some freedom from thankless responsibility and mundane self-absorption, so that you can experience the indelible buzz that should be rightfully yours the next time the Catbirds roll into town:

1) Put your kids up for adoption with Russian host families.
2) Return your dog, cat or other pet to the animal shelter.
3) Unplug your television and leave it on the curb or under a neighbor’s rain gutter.
4) Apply a sledge hammer to your iPhone and/or iPod.
5) Tell Grandma you’ll play Call of Duty and Halo with her on a week night.

The Dos Equis man has got nothing on Chandler Travis, who is arguably the Most Interesting Man in the World. Leading more bands than George Clinton in his prime, a barefoot Travis brought the Catbirds into Troy for their Ale House debut, and 37 songs later the crowd was still howling for more.

Electrifying and mesmerizing best describe the sound of the Catbirds, whose 2012 debut Catbirds Say Yeah rocks the body and the soul in equally frenetic measure. Live, the “Wow!” factor goes up several levels when this band plugs in and taps into a collective psychedelic garage rock and beach music unconsciousness. Travis (bass and vocals), Dinty Child (various guitars, mandocello and vocals), Steve Wood (guitars and vocals) and Rikki Bates (powerhouse drums) entered the cozy room to applause. “We’ve been dreaming of you all day!” announced Travis with a grin and tip of his hat before counting off Ronnie Dawson’s modern day rockabilly classic “Fish Out
of Water.” Next, Steve Wood wailed on “Stoned,” a cut off the new album that merged the demented innocence of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and abandon of the Fleshtones.

The party had officially begun.

Picking favorite moments from the two sets is daunting because the bar was set so high and never let up. Travis took the helm on the original “All I Wanna Know Is,” tossing out snarled lines with gusto and letting the band throw riffs out in a blaze of fuzz and feedback. Mel Torme’s “I’m Coming Home Now” featured deft vocalizing by Wood, Child and Travis, all held down by the impeccable stick work of Bates. The loose but tight “Red Red,” with Dinty Child on lead vocals, sounded like a song that would have had Bo
Diddley and Doug Sahm high-fiving each other at the Continental Club. Barbara Lynn’s 1965 chestnut “Can’t Buy My Love” brought some Gulf Coast strut to the room for the dancers; “Beer Town!” was an intoxicating mix of rock and monologue (the latter delivered by Child, extolled humorously the long process of how beer makes its way to the consumer); and “Changing Names,” a track from the new album, brought melodious rambunctiousness that rivaled the Who in their prime. “Once Proud Ghost,” just written recently, was a sweet instrumental showcase for Wood and Child, each bringing economy and wit to the solos.

When the encore came, it was an incendiary take of Link Wray’s gonzo instrumental “Jack the Ripper,” which ended several minutes later with Bates’ drum kit tossed out onto the dance floor and enough feedback from
Wood and Child’s guitars to remove the chicken wing grease stains from Travis’ t-shirt.

Support live music and good food and drink, people!

Fish Out of Water (Ronnie Dawson)
Stoned (Steve Wood)
Catbirds Say Yeah! (Travis and Greenberger)
Fool Killer (Mose Allison)
Another Night with the Boys
All I Wanna Know Is
First Warm Day
The Crutch of Music (Travis and Greenberger)
Swamp Gal
Who’s Sorry Now
I’m Comin’ Home Now (Mel Torme)
All I Wanna Do Is Love You
Pajama Pants Baby (Pete Labonne)
Move On (Betty Washington)
Girls (The Coasters)
Instant Karma (John Lennon)
Pudding Truck (NRBQ)
Red Red (Dinty Child)
7 and 7 Is (Arthur Lee/Love)
Don’t You Want a Lover Like That?
Don’t Say No
The Highway’s Comin’
Playin’ Records
Can’t Buy My Love (Barbara Lynn)
Baby, You’re the One for Me (The Bobettes)
That Girl’s in Love with Me (Neil Curry)
Beer Town!
Groove Me (King Floyd)
Mambo Sun (Marc Bolan/ T. Rex)
Sonic Boom
Changing Names (Travis and Greenberger)
Once Proud Ghost
Go Get the One You Love (Lee Dorsey)
Hippy Hippy Shakes (Chan Romero)
Leaving Here (Holland-Dozier-Holland)
Jack the Ripper (Link Wray)

The Catbirds

  1. Mike says

    A rockin night to be sure. Gotta say “Beer Town” was a blast. Have been a supporter of Chandler for some time. Each of his musical journeys are fantastic. The Philhamonic has swing, The Three ‘O has class, The Casuals are anything but, and The Catbirds are real cardiac music. If you haven’t – see Chandler in whatever band he brings. But The Catbirds rock, rock, and rock some more. My wife’s favorite.


  2. Denise says

    Fred -You just turned the calendar back 6 days and brought us back to the complete splendor that was last Saturday night Jan 19 with The Catbirds at The Ale House …what a spectacular night it was ! The Catbirds are 4 of the most talented , hard working, dedicated musicians we know…The Ale House one of the best music rooms we have ever enjoyed and the two a perfect combination ! We are so grateful to Brian Gilchrist for hosting The Catbirds, for enjoying and supporting the music and bands of Chandler Travis . Thank You Fred Rudofsky for your great interest support dedication and reviews . Thank You Nippertown for being Here There and Everywhere ! Thank You Chandler Travis and The Catbirds !!

  3. Richard Brody says

    Great review – I will see them in some incarnation the next time. Exactly how many Freds are there? How many places can one person be at? You put the energizer bunny to shame.

  4. Gregg Weinlein says

    I think Fred is some souped up energizer bunny! I certainly made his intro list to his review being a parent tied up with responsibilities and unable to attend all the great music events Fred finds. I’m not sure why Fred felt the need to categorized all those who did not attend unless, deep down, aside from his music mania, Fred himself wanders through his own demi-monde playing the role of just another kinky critic who really desires to be in some relationship where he gets to be tied up.

    Another great review, Fred…

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