Friday, May 13, 2011

SisterMonk Gypsy Funk Trio

You’ve seen the doo-wop groups, break-dancers and Mexican balladeers who wander through subway cars, and you’ve seen the violinists trying to finance their studies by serving "caviare to the general." On a recent night, the esplanade between the R train and the Broadway 1-2-3 at Times Square was occupied by a group called the SisterMonk trio. SisterMonk's female lead, K. Deane, plays a bongo, attached to her waist with a worn leather strap, wears ankle tambourines and sings with a virtuosity that is reminiscent of soul greats like Aretha Franklin. Her vocals are a mixture of jazz, swing, and the outlaw style of Rick James, with a little bit of Gloria Gaynor’s gospel disco style thrown in for good measure. Everything about Deane is magnified. Her bongo and tambourines are rudimentary, but it sounds like she’s Gene Krupa pounding away on a complete drum set with cymbals. The net effect of listening to Deane, who is accompanied by Trevor Hochman on bass and Jody Rubel on guitar, is to make you feel really cool and impregnable. Watching her, you get that old feeling from adolescence when music made you soar above everyone and made the petty concerns and responsibilities of living seem totally irrelevant, though her music doesn’t make you want to escape. It makes you want to stay right where you are, in this case the bustling Times Square subway station. She and her group offer the raw nourishment of hardtack. You want to merge with them, and you’d follow Deane on her odyssey if it weren’t for the rumble of your train pulling into the station. 

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