March 10, 2010

Girlyman - Joe's Pub - March 10, 2010

During Wednesday night's performance, the members of Girlyman agreed that they had been together for about 8 years.  I don't know why but I keep thinking they have been around much longer.  I first became aware of Girlyman through my former association with Outmusic. I believe I saw them at one of OUTmusic's award shows at the Knitting Factory. Maybe those award shows weren't as long ago as they seem. But whatever the case, Girlyman have been doing what they do for quite awhile and it shows through when seeing how comfortable they are on stage.

Girlyman is comprised of Ty Greenstein, Doris Muramatsu, Nate Borofsky and newly added drummer, JJ Jones. Now a quartet, the original three are known for their interwoven harmonies and folk songwriting. However, in concert, their talents are extended to humorous tomfoolery that often works with whatever happens in the moment. All four members, often joke around with each other while one is telling a story or just setting up a song. If something during the show goes wrong, you can be sure that Nate will write an impromptu song about it.

Girlyman walked on stage, with Nate announcing how excited they were to be back at Joe's Pub. After attributing the first song's inspiration to growing up in the 70's, the band went into "Easy Bake Ovens." I automatically noticed the fullness and live quality Girlyman's music took on, with the addition of JJ Jones' drums, that are not present on most of Girlyman's recordings. I also couldn't help but notice Ty Greenstein front and center. Ty, wearing a gray vest and tie, was androgynous yet unassumingly sexy.  Ty introduced the next song "Hold It All At Bay" as being written from the perspective of the person which one is jealous of, rather than the one who is jealous.   A memorable part of the song was the middle section. where there were rhythmic harmonies that reminded me of resounding trumpets.

Before doing the next song, Nate introduced each member of the band.  Nate made fun of the fact that JJ Jones clapped for herself when introduced.   Later the rest of band joked that JJ doesn't talk on stage; she only speaks through her drums. Nate and Ty then asked JJ questions which she answered by hitting on her drums. The audience laughed hysterically .

Although all three did harmony for every song, I guess they were all taking turns on lead vocals and the songs which they individually wrote.  In a sexy spaghetti strapped blouse, Doris was next up. She sang "Speechless" as Ty played the Djembe that was stationed in front of her. The song is well written and has a hook that can really get stuck in one's head.

Before the next song, Doris started talking with Nate and Ty about the Olympics. The conversation started out about how each athlete was treated by the press as having the weight of a nation on their shoulders. The conversation evolved, ending with Nate mimicking what it would be like to end each song as if he were an Olympic athlete by raising his arms and breathing heavily. Nate's infamous gesture became a running gag through the whole show.

Doris and Ty traded off instruments through most of the evening. Both played mandolin, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar. Although they didn't seem to be virtuosos on mandolin or banjo, both seemed proficient in accompanying themselves. Through most of the show Nate stuck to bass and baritone guitar. Since it's not often that you see a baritone guitar, and I play a little bass myself, I kept thinking "I want one of those."  Nate's baritone guitar has 6 strings as opposed to a regular bass which has 4. What I found interesting was it enabled Nate to play single basslines as well as strum along when necessary.

On the song "St. Peter's Bones," I really tuned into the texture created between Ty's Djembe playing and JJ's drums. It offered a variation in feel which I really enjoyed. So much so that I wanted to hear the same kind of synergy happen a few more times.

During the song "Ashen Shade," there was a noticeable high pitch ring. After the song, Ty asked the audience if we heard it as well. At the same point, someone from the sound booth said they were working on it. Nate used the moment instantly to make up a song on stage with a beginning, middle and end. If the song had a title, it would probably be "Ringing In the Sound System." It was a really funny part of the show but there was more to fun and games to come.

For their 11th song of the evening, Nate asked the audience to choose between a mouse, something having to do with a German, something backward or something to do with George Michael. After going through the choices, the winner was George Michael. Girlyman started playing in a bluegrass 2/4 feel. I guessed what it was from the middle eastern line Doris played on the Banjo. But once Nate sang the verse, the audience applauded because they knew it was George Michael's "Father Figure."

Girlyman had another request portion of the show when their many loyal fans started screaming out song titles. They settled on "The Shape I Found You In." The song was beautiful and if I'm not mistaken they have added additional harmonies since they recorded it.   My friend Mark commented on the song as well, saying the way it was performed on Wednesday night was absolutely exquisite.
Girlyman ended the show on several high notes including what sounded like a beautiful choral piece "Up To The Sea." They ended with Ty saying "Let's go out with a bang!" before doing "Son of a Preacher Man."

Once the show was over, Ty, Nate and Doris sat at the reception desk of Joe's Pub talking to fans and signing autographs. I found each of them to be as personable off stage as they were on, which for me is a true sign of professionalism. The foursome who call themselves Girlyman are a talented bunch, worth seeing at Joe's Pub. Catch them the next time they are there, you definitely won't be sorry.

Girlyman's Set List
1. Easy Bake Ovens
2. Hold It All At Bay
3. Speechless
4. Could Have Guessed
5. St. Peters Bones
6. Ashen Shade
7. St. Stephen
8. Everything's Easy
9. Storms Were Mine
11.Father Figure (George Michael Cover)
12.Young James Dean
13.My Eyes Get Misty
14.The Shape I Found You In
15.Say Goodbye
16.Through To Sunrise
17.Joyful Sign

Encore :

18.Fist City (Loretta Lynn Cover)
19.Up To The Sea
20.Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield Cover)

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