The high-energy and chain-smoking Bielanko may be the hardest-working man in rock and roll. When he wasn’t dripping sweat over his furiously picked electric banjo or taking celebratory shots of Patrón tequila with his bandmates, he was entertaining the audience with stories about searching for country ham and procuring a goat. Even when Bielanko was busy tuning his guitar, he insisted that keyboardist Christine Smith entertain the audience, which she did with a couple of covers including the theme from Rocky.
Missing was founding member Serge Bielanko, who’s spending time with his newborn daughter, but his absence wasn’t nearly as detrimental as it could’ve been. The steady and occasionally virtuosic play of bassist Johnny Pisano, drummer Martin Lynds, and keyboardist Smith left room for the remaining Bielanko brother to win over the audience with his freewheeling charisma on songs such as “Round-Eye Blues,” “Walt Whitman Bridge,” and the Skip James cover and ode to President Obama, “He’s a Mighty Good Leader.” But that was all in the first three-quarters of the show.
Two hours in, it was hard to tell who was more intoxicated: Bielanko, who fell backward onto his guitars, or members of the audience who were incessantly yelling unintelligible and nonsensical one-liners. But it didn’t matter. We’d already heard plenty.
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