Braving the New York Thruway in mid-January with only the promise of a weeknight gig in Albany as reward is just the kind of thing we could use a little more of. Central New York quartet the Instruments Band made a Monday-night stop at Valentine’s where they were joined by Matthew Loiacono, Matt Durfee and Que Caro.
Que Caro – a female-fronted four-piece outfit boasting members of the Red Lions – possesses the potential to join the ranks of the Nippertown’s very best, the likes of Ashley Pond Band and Railbird. Their all-too-brief five-song set hit stride with what striking singer-guitarist Caroline Corrigan called a “two for one.” After leading off with a Corrigan-penned gem of a song “The Ledge,” they dove-tailed into “I’ll Never Know,” written by stand-up bassist Eric Margan – a duet in which Corrigan and Margan’s elegant vocals were both featured to great effect. By the closing number, “Holding Up the Falling House,” it was quite clear that Que Caro is a musical force to be reckoned with.
Matthew Loiacono (newly re-dubbed Matthew Carefully) was the next to take the stage, performing a four-song set of what could best be described as organic Frippertronics. Mandolins and guitars were played and discarded like water bottles in a landfill. The live samples that were created formed loops that provided the backing track for his vocals – both dry and processed. It all worked because very good songs are at the heart of Matt’s sleight of hand. He closed with an audience request for “Only Memory” from his brilliant “Kentucky” CD.
Matt Durfee perched his sizable talents upon a bar stool that should have crumbled under the weight of it. Matt got right to what he does best – make music. His songs of dark matter bookended the mid-set humorous and timely tune “Pelvis Restley” a statement on Elvis the latter fatter years. Matt brought it all home, literally, with his statement on small town toothless speak, “All Talk.”
Rochester-nased quartet the Instruments Band initially made use of guitar, drums, bull-fiddle and a keyboard set on calliope, as they launched into a couple of upbeat art-rock numbers. The band joked that they had created a false impression, and then striped it down to a leaner, more rootsy sound, opting for banjo and mandolin in place of keyboards and bass. Sensing that the room was already Matthew-heavy, the Instruments pulled out a song called “Matthew” from their 2007 CD release “Make Good Choices.” Quirky, good-humored stuff all in all, the Instruments Band not only held the audience on a school night, they handily won them over.
Cool things may occur in weather naturally, but cool, innovative, mid-January, Monday-night events do not. So all this fun was due to first-time promoters Kristen Parslow and Emily Armstrong, who were inspired by an amusing video of the Instruments Band on YouTube. Kristen took the initiative, deciding the best way to see the band was to set up a show with a little help from their talented local musician friends. Meanwhile, Emily’s formidable screen-printing skills were pressed into service to create a stunning original event poster that is truly a work of art.
Let’s hope this well-attended labor of love is not the fledgling duo’s last promotion because complaining about the scene is easy. To do something creative to help foster it is hard.
Photographs and review by Matt Mac Haffie