For about the past ten years, the Two Man Gentlemen Band – tenor guitarist Andy Bean and bassist Fuller Condon – have entertained crowds with their irrepressible, toe-tapping oldtimey sounds. Their previous album Two At a Time was a collection of drinking songs and will probably go down in history as a classic of its kind, if you buy the premise that drinking songs can be classic. Their latest release, aptly titled Enthusiastic Attempts At Hot Swing and String Band Favorites (streaming at Spotify), is a bit, um, more serious. Its unifying theme is old songs about US states and specific locales. Much as the two gents’ cred as connoisseurs of early swing, blues, jazz and hillbilly sounds is well known, the album is sort of a resume that you can dance to. It’s something a booking agent can use to score a gig at a fancy sit-down jazz club, and also something you can enjoy over cocktails at home without paying fancy sit-down jazz club prices. The two gentlemen – who are likely to be joined by other gentlemen onstage- have a gig coming up on Sept 26 at 9 PM at the Jalopy; cover is $15. It’s the obvious place to see these guys, not only since they’ll probably take advantage of the venue’s penchant for using a single, central onstage mic, just as the band recorded these songs, live to analog tape.
A lot of the songs here are ones you know, like the characteristically jaunty take of My Blue Heaven that opens the album. Back Home in Indiana is much the same; These Foolish Things, as you would expect, is more low-key, in a plaintive Matt Munisteri vein. The funniest track is Beale Street Mama, capped off with dixieland-flavored clarinet and banjo; the most surreal, and surprisingly, period-perfect number here is Chinatown, My Chinatown.
Time Changes Everything features cocktail drums – as do most of the songs here – along with mandolin and accordion. Likewise, Some of These Days also has acccordion on it, adding a Romany jazz edge. The shuffling Palm Springs Jump has wry trombone-ish vocalese and a flurrying Bean guitar solo. They do On the Sunny Side of the Street and I Can’t Give You Anything But Love as droll Gatsby swing crooner tunes, while Sweet Irene from Illinois bounces along with a rustic 20s string band feel.
There are also a trio of excellent instrumentals: a spiky swing through The Dallas Rag, a version of Jackson Stomp that’s so tight it ticks, and a lively take of East Tennessee Blues. All this further cements the group’s reputation as one of the most reliably fun vintage Americana acts out there.