Gal Holiday and The Honky Tonk Revue
Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant and Lounge
17 Holland Street, Somerville, MA
Friday, August 7
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
First of all, you’re not going to forget her husky voice. Chances are one of her songs will lodge in your brain and you’ll be humming it for the next few days. And you’re not about to forget her face, expressive, animated, a classic beauty. Her tattooed arms and half shaved hairdo give her the air of a Goth chick in cowboy boots. Try putting all that together as you watch her playfully dance as un-selfconsciously as if she were in her kitchen while her lead guitar takes a brief solo.
That’s how Gal Holiday and The Honky Tonk Revue transformed Johnny D’s Uptown Restaurant and Lounge into an old time saloon last night.
By 7:30, the packed house was locked and loaded, primed to hear one of the first performances in the Northeast by Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue. New Orleans is home to more genres of music than grains of rice in your jambalaya. Cajun and zydeco bands from Louisiana have been making their way to Boston fairly often but this is the first big-time country swing band from The Crescent City to hit town.
Gal Holiday, Vanessa Niemann, has a big voice that, like Patsy Cline's, can range effortlessly from country to swing, rock, and ballads. Nothing’s more country than hitting a split register note, as Niemann does in the midst of a ballad. She’s a workhorse on stage. Just enough patter to keep us connected then pow… tight arrangements that are short on extended instrumental solos and long on stories of heartbreak, love, and loss in the best honky tonk tradition. Two steppers flooded onto the tiny dance floor in front of the stage for every song. Soft and sweet, raucous and rowdy, who cared about the tempos. Honky tonk is perfect for dancing… and dance we did.
Gal Holiday and The Honky Tonk Revue began at 7:30 PM and hardly took a breath until 9 PM. Neither did we.
Band: Greg Good, rhythm guitar; Izzy Zaidman, lead guitar; Ashley Maccabee (Niemann's brother!) drums; Dave Brouillette, standup bass; Vanessa Niemann,vocals.
The Honky Tonk Revue’s playlist is reminiscent of nickel a play songs on a 1950s juke box. If you can’t get it across in less than four minutes, forget it.
Partial Set List - I know I missed at least 6 more. Many songs were from the group’s last two CDs, “Set Two” and “Last To Leave, ” that includes many of which are originals.
“Last To Leave”
“Broke Down and Broke”
“South of I-12”
“Teach Me How To Two Step”
“Send Me Away”
“Don’t Think Twice”
“Love Is A Battlefield”
“To Make Amends”
The dance floor at one of it's quieter moments.
Owner of Johnny D's Carla DeLellis with Phil Woodbury. Woodbury's been a fan of Gal Holiday since he heard her years ago while he was a volunteer carpenter/plumber jack of all trades at Common Ground Relief in New Orleans. The non-profit is still involved rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward after it had been demolished in 2005 by what locals refer to as "the storm" and the rest of us call Hurricane Katrina.
When Phil heard the band was heading to its first Northeast gig at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA, he became a man on a mission. He was determined to get one of his favorite bands to Johnny Ds, a club renowned for the quality and variety of its acts. Phil picked up the phone, helped broker the gig, and learned a ton about the music business. For two months before the event, he promoted it like crazy, handing out flyers to every dancer and music lover he knew.Even helped get her a spot on a local radio station. Result: a huge crowd that made everyone happy.
Above and beyond: The Woodbury household hosted the five members of the band after the gig. Good ol' Northern Hospitality!