Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Andy Shernoff Solo

One test of a good song is if it plays well as an acoustic number, or so says Dictators songwriter & mastermind Andy Shernoff. And play ‘em acoustic is exactly what Shernoff did for about an hour last night at the Lakeside Lounge, in New York City, in the final installment of the amazing Monday happy hour thing he’s been doing there for the past few weeks. And play ‘em ain’t all he did. He told a few too--stories, anecdotes, and jokes to introduce the numbers, revealing something new about each song. For example, writer Richard “Jimmy Borneo” Meltzer apparently loved party gags, and would sometimes place a cup of his own piss among a soiree’s snacks & hordy-orvys, and the death of Joey Ramone, for whom Shernoff wrote the great “Stop Thinking About It,” was even sadder than you know.

Something about the interplay of these stories and songs lent extra impact to the proceedings, producing some rare effect that these two elements working separately would never hit. The more he talked and played the more exhilarating and trance-like the set became. When introducing “New York, New York,” a song about a city that no longer exists, Shernoff remarked that “Now New York is one big mall filled with hillbillies.” How ironic to hear him play the song, moments later, and stare through the Lakeside’s window at the street outside, watching the passersby, the bourgeois bohemians and neat bankers who now roam Avenue B. Occasionally these passersby would glance inside at the oddity onstage. What did they see? Just some guy strumming an acoustic guitar?

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