CD Reviews

BANJO NICKARU & WESTERN SCOOCHES: Very Next Thing

banjo-nickaru

From New York, Banjo Nickaru & Western Scooches have a sound that is, well, unique. The band is built around Nick Russo (all manner of banjo and guitars, vocals) and lead singer/guitarist Betina Hershey. Add David Pleasant’s drums, harp ,and vocals, and additional vocal contributions from Miles Griffith, then add doses of unusual scat singing from the Gullah-Geechee culture, and some down-home New Orleans jazz chestnuts. The combination is at times cluttered and unfocused, but it’s unlike anything most listeners will find elsewhere.

Very Next Thing offers ten tracks, mostly covers of jazz vocal standards. Tracks like “Freight Train” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” are mostly notable for Hershey’s clear-as-a-bell swing jazz vocals. On “You Are My Sunshine” and “Jock-a-Mo,” Griffith joins on vocals for call-and-response and scatting, add West African-feel percussion, and the flavor of the tunes turns from clever jazz to an Island music/blues hybrid. The two singers are so mismatched that these songs take some getting used to.

“I’m Gettin’ Married” motors along on some blazing banjo picking, all about how wedded bliss means “Now my sin is perfectly legal.” Even better is Hershey’s “I Don’t Believe in Love.” Full of double entendre and good humor, it is the best track here. While the disc is full of elaborate arrangements, the band sounds best when just guitar, banjo, and Hershey’s arresting vocal takes on a classic like “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

One Trackback

  • […] San Diego Troubadour Hershey’s “I Don’t Believe in Love” full of double entendre and good humor, is the best track here. While the disc is full of elaborate arrangements, the band sounds best when just guitar, banjo, and Hershey’s arresting vocal takes on a classic like “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Tracks like “Freight Train” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” are mostly notable for Hershey’s clear-as-a-bell swing jazz vocals. Acoustic Live (cd reviews are at the bottom of the page) “This album is an intriguing mash-up of old-timey, bluegrass and banjo-driven Dixieland, with even a touch of Calypso thrown in. If you like high-intensity, upbeat versions of standards, this is for you.” Richard Cuccaro, Acoustic Live! No Depression “Ultimately, this is Americana music at its purest and most impressive, making it indeed a lesson for the learning.” Classical Arts “This slice of sumptuousness, replete with oodles of Prohibition Era cakewalks, spans the gamut from jazzbo flapper dance tunes and traditional folk hoots’n’hollers to Crescent City craziness, Fats Waller (Ain’t Misbehavin'”), gospel (“This Little Light Of Mine”), Elizabeth Cotton (“Freight Train”) and the kind of honeyed originals that makes one move and tickles one pink. This, then, is the Very Next Thing ” TrailMix (our song, and a whole bunch of new music to discover) What an honor to be interviewed by Artie Martello on Mostly Folk […]

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