Friday, November 30, 2007

The Bridge Sandwich, Carnegie Deli Style

The Bridge
Lion's Den, New York, NY
November 29, 2007

The Bridge brought their brand of Baltimore blues, funk, jazz, and Jacob's style shredding to the newly renovated Lion's Den last night in the West Village of NYC. What was once a dilapidated hole in the wall venue in the immediate vicinity of The Bitter End, the now defunct Bottom Line, and numerous other folkie/rocker venues has been spruced up with a new coat of paint, a new hardwood floor, and hotel-style bathrooms. In other words, the soul is gone. But what is dead, can still be reborn. And the Bridge raised the spirits of the venue voodoo-style when they took the stage.

They had some help with Afroskull performing the opening duties playing a Headhunters brand of funk and jazz. The musical sandwich was completed with Jamie McLean, the badass guitarist from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, closing the show post-Bridge, tearing it up like Clapton fronting The Black Crowes.

I've seen The Bridge on multiple occasions, being born in Baltimore and all, yet most times I see them it is in New York when they make the trip. And what amazes me so much about their shows, other than the solid musicianship of Chris on guitar, Dave on bass, Kenny on electro-mandolin, Mike on the drums, and Patrick on sax is that there always appears to be an extra unseen member of the group that raises the whole game. It is the hidden presence in their melded sound that makes them better than the sum of their parts. The Bridge fans know it. It's the feeling that you can lose yourself in the haze of their sound and soul and mentally refocus minutes later thinking "How the hell did that happen?" Many bands are talented, but few bands do what The Bridge does.

I am not an expert in Bridge setlisting so I won't take a stab but it was a real treat to have Jamie McLean join The Bridge for most of their too short set. I've seen Jamie with Dirty Dozen play the main stage of Bonnaroo and to see him share the stage with my hometown boys years later was awesome. Chris and Jamie appeared to have a kindred spirit of white-boy blues inspired singing and guitar slinging while sharing the stage. The entire band was definitely pleased with their newfound member who was clearly listening intently to the tunes as he appeared to be learning them onstage as he went. That pleasure was evident in Jamie's face as well as his contorted expressions of improvisational bliss were only interrupted to smile at Kenny, Chris, and the gang.

If you don't know The Bridge, make the effort. It ain't just a way to get from borough to borough across troubled water. It is also the way to hear a band playing blues->funk->rock->bluegrass without hitting shuffle on your iPod. This was a Carnegie deli style musical sandwich I wouldn't mind paying $16 for. As for the actual Carnegie sandwich, not so much.

The Bridge @ Myspace
The Bridge @ Live Music Archive

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