Day number two finds me in the Caribbean-themed frat bar Wicked Willy’s. I’m not entirely sure how I ended up here, but I had heard a bunch of artists were playing stripped down sets without their bands, and this wasn’t something you get to see a lot of at CMJ.
First up was Christina LaRocca. A Brooklyn staple with powerhouse pipes. Backed only by partner Satchel Jones, she projects a warm R&B flavor either when singing in French, or when covering classics like ‘Ring of Fire.’
Next to the tiny stage was the funky scientist Netherfriends. Essentially a one-man show, music-nerd Shawn Rosenblatt became the audience and artist at once. He has no problem looping harmonies, beatbox and pads together while still having plenty of time left over to bolt off the stage and throw his weight around on the dancefloor throughout the half hour set. One minute Jamie Lidell, the next Buddy Holly, his band-in-a-box style is unconventional, but won the crowd over with how enthusiastically the Chicago native brought it all together.
After all these solo acts, Lisa Bianco finally brought the first band out of the night. Bianco sings music from the heartland, but her riot spirit comes alive in every runaway train jam. Once upon a time people referred to the NY artist as anti-folk. This spirit comes through at the quieter moments, but for the most part she delivers overdrive to make Neil Young turn his head, stopping any of the usual Sheryl Crow comparisons at the door.
After wishing My new friend Paul congratulations for winning the biggest beer pong trophy I'd ever seen, I was ready for the last band of the night, Automatic Children. Here’s a band where almost every member is a frontman, bouncing lines back and forth from singer to singer and trading riffs from country stomp to sentimental note picking. These guys are long- time favorites of the Deli, and new faves of my own.
After that it was time to find my bed again... Reminded after two days that I actually have a girlfriend I should probably see. Who knew?