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Tag: paul triff

Lorraine Leckie & Her Demons Release a Swirling, Hypnotic, Psychedelic Live Album in Memory of Their Late Great Drummer Paul Triff

More bands should make live albums. They’re a lot less expensive, compared to studio recordings, and if the musicians are on their game they capture an energy that can’t be bottled in the studio. Orchestras and jazz artists have known this for a long time but rock acts are still catching up.

When Lorraine Leckie & Her Demons recorded their September 29, 2015 set at the Mercury Lounge, no one in the band could have known that someday it would have historical value beyond simply being a high-voltage performance. Tragically, this show would be the very last one that popular New York drummer Paul Triff would ever play. And it’s available as a name-your-price download from Bandcamp, in his memory. Fittingly, Leckie and her band are playing the album release show at the Mercury on March 14 at 8 PM. Feral original punk/blues siren Molly Ruth opens the night at 7; cover is $10.

The premise of the September show was to air out a lot of new material from Leckie’s most recent studio album, The Raven Smiled, and the band were clearly amped to play it. While Leckie has flirted with psychedelia throughout her career, she’d never plunged so deeply into it. So it’s no surprise that guitarist Hugh Pool – who can channel Hendrix better than just about anyone alive – and bassist Charles DeChants, who comes from a jamband background, would be on top of their game here. Triff was also a big psychedelic fan, a devotee of Steely Dan; the great drummer Ron Howden, of Nektar, was also an influence. All that shows up in this performance. Violinist Pavel Cingl can play anything from punk to classical, but he also takes centerstage in kitchen-sink psychedelic folk band Jull Dajen, and his interplay with Pool here can be intoxicating.

The show opens with The Man Who Walks in the Rain – Cingl’s violin swirls and dances, mingling with Pool’s echoing leads over DeChants’ looming bass and Triff’s relentless drive. Leckie’s downtuned Telecaster growls and simmers as Dangerous Friends, a slow, slinky, scorchingly rising anthem gets underway. The two guitars and violin build a witchy web in Medicine Man, driven by Triff’s shamanic beat.

The group push their way through tricky polyrhythms into the surrealistically swaying, distantly menacing That Ain’t Nice and then follow it with the suspensefully lingering dynamics of Witches Heart, Pool’s quasar guitar matched by Cingl’s starry violin flickers. Then the intensity reaches volcanic levels with Climb Ya Like a Mountain, Leckie’s tribute to rugged outdoorsman Aleister Crowley, better known for his adventures in black magic than high-altitude hiking.

There’s a momentary lull when Leckie moves to the piano for a solo version of The Raven Smiled, then brings the band back for a rampaging version of her big crowd-pleaser, Ontario, Cingl and Pool sparring throughout the mighty Americana rock anthem. Its final triumphant flurries would be the last beats that Triff would ever play onstage. As the album attests, this is a great live band (Keith Robinson has since stepped in to fill the big shoes left behind by Triff). And this could be their best record.

In Memoriam – Paul Adam Triff: December 10, 1960 – October 5, 2015

Paul Triff, one of New York’s most distinctive and sought-after drummers, died this past October 5 of a heart attack. He was 54. He is survived by his father, Ralph Triff of West Palm Beach, Florida; sister Tina Sheetz, of Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and Alexandria, Virginia; a niece, Samantha Sheetz of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and nephew, Adam Sheetz of State College, Pennsylvania; and his longtime partner, Jodi Miller, of Charlotte, North Carolina as well as many friends and bandmates.

Triff’s earliest inspirations were his grandfather, a vaudeville musician, as well as his jazz-loving father and his sister, who introduced him to the Beatles at age four. Trained at Berklee College of Music, Triff was the rare rock drummer who could swing, hard. His Charlie Watts-informed groove and flair for a wryly placed flurry or flourish took the four-on-the-floor rock that he was best known for to a higher level.

Triff chose his spots. He was more interested in adding color with a rattle or a roll, building a suspenseful intro, or throwing a tongue-in-cheek riff at one of his bandmates, than he was in taking centerstage. His attention to detail and sense for a song’s inner content earned him a long list of tours and club gigs. If there were musicians in the crowd when he played, they always wanted to know if he was available – and Triff ended up turning down many more gigs than he took. His touring and recording credits covered a wide range of styles, from the Shirelles, to high-voltage dark rockers Lorraine Leckie and Her Demons, popular festival band Mike Rocket & the Stars, parlor pop pianist Julian Velard, reggae-rock pioneers Pacific Orchestra, Americana bands Chris Berardo & the Desberardos and Ten Ton Man.

When not on the road or in the studio, Triff was a homebody who loved cats, a sharp-witted raconteur and a man whose businesslike public persona couldn’t hide a warmhearted and compassionate soul. A talented cook and devotee of classic American diner food, his photos of entrees from every spot on the menu were a constant source of amusement for his many friends. A proficient athlete and tennis player, he was a fan of Roger Federer, and followed hometown teams the Yankees, Giants and Rangers. As a longtime resident of City Island, he devoured the culture and history of his beloved New York City.

A private memorial service will be held on October 29. His family has created Paulie’s Pets, a charity in his honor to benefit animals at the New Rochelle Animal Shelter. Deepest condolences to everyone who was lucky enough to know this talented and soulful player.

Lorraine Leckie and Pavel Cingl Release Their Enigmatic, Witchy New Album at the Mercury on the 29th

Among rock songwriters, few are as capable as Lorraine Leckie in writing across a vast array of different styles. New Yorkers know her best as the leader of a whipcrack-sharp psychedelic Americana rock band that she fondly calls Her Demons. Yet as straightforward as her work with that group is, her other projects can be much harder to pin down. Her latest album, The Raven Smiled – a collaboration with similarly eclectic Czech violin star Pavel Cingl, streaming at Bandcamp – is her most enigmatic, her most beguiling and arguably her best. She and Cingl are joined by those Demons – lead guitarist and recent Blues Hall of Fame inductee Hugh Pool, bassist Charles DeChants and drummer Paul Triff – at the album release show on September 29 at 8 PM at the Mercury. Cover is $10, and you get a free copy of the cd with paid admission.

The influences on this album, through a glass darkly, seem to be PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, although the music here bears more reflection than resemblance to either artist’s work. As you would expect from the instrumentation – Leckie’s Telecaster or piano paired with Cingl’s violin – the sound is a lot closer to the folk noir of Leckie’s spare 2010 album Martini Eyes. However, Cingl’s judicious production frequently adds misty atmospherics and more ornate textures, in the same vein as Leckie’s haunting 2013 album with Anthony Haden-Guest, Rudely Interrupted.

The opening track, The Man That Walks in the Rain sets the stage, cryptic and mysterious, along the same lines as Dylan’s Man in the Long Black Coat. Leckie has made no secret that she is a devotee of the black arts, so it should come as no surprise that Climb Ya Like a Mountain would be a homage to Aleister Crowley (who, as Leckie tells it, was an avid mountain climber – and a surprisngly buffoonish persona for someone enamored with the dark side).

Leckie explores that light/dark dichotomy from the opposite angle with Dangerous Friends, its triumphant continental party narrative set against a hazy backdrop channeled via one of the unorthodox guitar tunings that she employs so often here. By contrast, the baroque-tinged piano ballad Story of Your Life has a lustrous, minimalist sheen, a homage to Prague, a city whose history and beauty clearly resonate strongly with Leckie.

Awake is even more minimalistic, Cingl’s lullaby violin gently building the somnambulistic ambience. By contrast, That Ain’t Nice is a launching pad for Leckie’s dissociative, noisy guitar explorations in tandem with Cingl’s blizzard of glissandos. Witches Heart tersely mashes up early PJ Harvey, witchy mid-70s Marianne Faithfull Britfolk and 80s goth, enhanced by the eerie close harmonies of backup singer Lisa Zwier. “My little doll, you were born under a broken star, I am sorry,” Leckie intones with a cool inscrutability as the album’s most distantly ominous track, Medicine Man, gets underway. The title cut, an enigmatic piano vignette, closes the album on a decidedly unresolved note. As with the rest of the songs here, there’s charm, but also menace, the defining characteristic of this allusively intriguing collection.

Some Good Shows You Might Have Missed

Back in the day, before the web really took off, one of the best ways to find out about concerts in this city was the New York Waste. It still exists, sort of a cross between the Onion and the old NY Press. Copies of the paper were hard to find then, and they still are, because people grab it the moment it hits the street (i.e. the corner of the bar at Duff’s or St. Vitus, for example). It’s funny, and irreverent, and although ten years ago it could just as easily have been called Bands Who Play the Continental, it still covers music that few blogs and none of the corporate media will go near, especially what’s left of the indigenous punk and metal scenes here. Over the years, it’s generally been less of a guide to what’s upcoming than it is a sometimes tantalizing look at what’s already happened. So in the spirit of the New York Waste, here’s a look at some recent live shows worth revisiting.

A little over a week ago, Lorraine Leckie & Her Demons played an invite-only show at one of the local dives. She switched between guitar and piano, and the band – Hugh Pool on lead guitar, J. Wallace on bass and Paul Triff on drums – was at the top of their game. Even though this was basically a live rehearsal in front of a bunch of friends and media, they careened through a scorching mix of electric Neil Young-style anthems, a little punchy glamrock and the creepy noir songs that Leckie has made her specialty. Pool’s murderous rampages and judicious atmospherics serve Leckie’s songs perfectly: he’s the rare lead guitarist who plays a lot of notes yet manages to make them interesting. Unhinged cascades of crazed tapping, anguished, screaming bent notes and machine-gun volleys to bring a song over the top all figured into the equation. A couple of the night’s best songs were new collaborations between Leckie and legendary 70s nightlife figure Anthony Haden-Guest from a forthcoming album that they’ll be wrapping up next month: the first, a balefully quiet number told from the point of view of a serial killer, the last a bittersweetly glimmering piano ballad about addiction and disollution sarcastically titled Happy City.

The next day the Sic Fucs played the Howl Festival in Tompkins Square Park. The legendary, comedic 70s CBGB punks still have it. Tish and Snooky looked fantastic and still have those great voices – there’s a reason why Debbie Harry teamed up with them in the Stilletos – and they had all their props, including a couple of big cleavers to swing on the chorus of Chop Up Your Mother. Methodically and professionally – that’s no joke – they made their way through Spanish Bar Mitzvah – which was gypsy punk before gypsy punk existed – along with Rock or Die, Your Teenage Abortion and a bunch of other snotty, sarcastic barely two-minute songs. Russell, their frontman, told politically incorrect ethnic jokes, jumped off the stage and ran through the crowd and then found he couldn’t leap high enough to get back up there. So he went around the back. A torrential cloudburst had just ended when they first hit the stage; by the time the show was over, the clouds were gone.

Band of Outsiders, another group that called CB’s home in a previous life, were amazingly good at Local 269 a few nights later. It was fun watching Jesse Bates – one of the world’s least likely but most entertaining frontmen – lead former Lakeside supergroup, opening act Los Dudes, through a bunch of characteristically tongue-in-cheek garage rock tunes. Then Band of Outsiders reminded how they’re even better now than they were at the peak of their popularity almost thirty years ago. The twin guitars of Jim McCarthy and Marc Jeffrey jangled and clanged and intertwined with a psychedelic chemistry akin to Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine in Television, a band they get compared to a lot and deservedly so. Mixing up older songs with new ones from their excellent new Sound Beach Quartet mini-album, they evoked other great guitar bands from years past: the artsy catchiness of the Church; the menacing improvisational stomp of True West; the hypnotic but hooky jangle of the Feelies, and then closed with a rampaging, uncharacteristically loose cover of Shakin’ All Over. But the best songs of the night were the new ones. McCarthy sang the bittersweet, Grateful Dead-tinged Gods of Happenstance as Jeffrey hit his envelope pedal for some terse Jerry Garcia textures; Jeffrey took over vocals on the backbeat-driven, unexpectedly crescendoing One Life Is Not Enough.

The following night, dark folk songwriter Mac McCarty and his band packed the back room at a bar a little further north that occasionally doubles as music venue, and played their asses off, possibly fueled by the frustration of not having any amplification other than a couple of vocal mics. As it turned out, the swishy theatreboy behind the sound board was so concerned with getting the sound right for his own vocal mic – why he needed one in the first place is a mystery – that he forgot to unmute the other channels on the board. So none of the instruments, other than Walter Ego’s bass, was amped. But the group wouldn’t be denied, racing through a mix of lickety-split, punk-tinged acoustic songs, including a particularly angry one about strikebreaking Pinkertons torching a New Year’s Eve party in Michigan mining country sometime in the 1800’s with predictably gruesome results. The slow requiems and laments were just as intense, even though the crowd in the back were having a hard time hearing everything; former Banjo Jim’s honcho Lisa Zwier-Croce sang her heart out on a couple of them, giving them an absolutely chilling edge.

Because bad reviews don’t really serve any useful purpose (and can be totally unfair to the musicians involved), there’s no sense in going into any kind of depth about the shows by the well-loved veteran funkmeister just back from hanging out in the pool at his girlfriend’s place in Connecticut, who couldn’t pull himself out of vacation mode and found himself at a rare loss for words; the fortysomething chanteuse from the Great Plains and her twentysomething band who didn’t have a clue how to play the oldschool country songs she sings so fetchingly; the purist Americana guitarslinger and his talented pals who really, really need to rehearse before they play out again; the equally talented up-and-coming indie classical outfit who found themselves in unfamiliar circumstances outdoors, where they waged a sonic battle with a sputtering gas generator and lost, badly; and the legendary oldschool funk bandleader whose inspired performance was undone by an uncharacteristically wretched sound mix at a popular summer venue. Watch this space for the conclusion of this two-part series,with an iconic and still vital punk-era personality, a dub reggae band, a jam-oriented klezmer outfit and a famous rapper fronting a symphony orchestra.