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Lucy Lee / Dan Janisch / Bad Livers, Jack's Sugar Shack, Los Angeles, 4/19/97

Lucy Lee - Please don't make me write about them. Pretty please. The logic that applies to the statement "The best part about Newark, NJ, is leaving" also applies to these folks. I loved that little thing where they all walked off the stage and were finished. I must admit, though, that they were well-intentioned and full of perky energy, but the whole country lounge act shtick (complete with a cheesy pseudo-lasso routine with a piece of rope long enough to nab the chair next to you if you were afraid the varmit was getting away) really wore a bit thin.

Dan Janisch - Tasty country morsels - the ones about shedding foolish tears and about how things only make sense when you're drunk, etc. I had the sense, though, that they were all trying to shed their own private demons through playing music instead of attending various 12-step programs:

  • Lead singer - "I have this problem where I have a twitchy upper lip when I'm singing and kind of hunch over when I'm not."
  • Guitarist - "I can't help but look like I'm battling a particularly nasty gastric ulcer when I play solos."
  • Bassist - "Look, I'm a bassist, and although I have this air of calmness about me, really I'm all seething turmoil on the inside because I'm honestly jealous that I don't get to play as many notes as the other guys."
  • Drummer - "Why do I have to sit here all alone in the dark?"
Perhaps, though, these personal problems help them make good clichˇd country music - suffering is what it's all about, anyway, right?

Bad Livers - OK, how many bluegrass bands do you know who...wait. Let's take a step back. How many bluegrass bands do you know? Now let's progress. How many bluegrass bands do you know who:

  • Have a tuba, play it, and even allow tuba solos?
  • Cite as one of their influences "that fancy Russian dancer Nureyev"?
  • Can use the verb "to kvetch" properly in a sentence?
  • Can use the verb "to kvetch" properly in a sentence bemoaning America Online's service?
  • Can dedicate a song to Deng Xiaopeng?
I still stand my ground that Bad Livers are far and away the hickest band that I know of. The lead singer was an absolutely outstanding banjo picker - he was going so fast that at least a few times during the evening, I thought that we might have to start picking finger pieces up off the dance floor. Well, we didn't. All three guys managed to remain intact during the whole concert, which was good, especially in the case of the upright bassist / tubist who was a very large guy, so it would have been a lot of pieces. How did I get on this topic? Hicks or not, they were really nice guys who by their own admission honestly loved to play music, and a darn good thing too since they've played over 1,600 shows. Even though I left with more than my fair share of bluegrass coursing through my head, my Bad Livers experience was sadly incomplete, as they did not play "The Adventures of Pee Pee the Sailor". I won't elaborate, so those of you in the know can join me in sorrow, and those who don't will have to go find a copy of their "Delusions of Banjer" album and find out. You won't be sorry.

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