Friday, September 12, 2008

Bingo! show at Spiegelworld

Clint Maedgen's Bingo! show landed at lower Manhattan's Spiegelworld as if the revue had been tailor made for the tony cabaret that caters to well heeled New Yorkers. The crowd for this show was unusual for the place, peppered as it was with hardcore fans of Louisiana music who hooted knowingly at the references to the Ninth Ward and Mid City and howled in delight when Clint name checked the Hi Ho Lounge and a series of Bourbon Street strip clubs. The fans knew when to get up and dance, how to clap along in time and especially how to interact with the guerilla theater moves of Bingo's players. The music was as well choreographed as the players and the program, using an array of kitchen utensils and garage junk for percussion instruments and working bull horns, sirens and electronics expertly into a sonic mix based around a two keyboard acoustic quartet with Maedgen's saxophone as the main solo voice. Preservation Hall's Ben Jaffe was along for the ride, playing sousaphone at several points in the show. The video of "Complicated Life" and of course the Bingo game itself, which ended with the "winner" being knocked to the ground and beaten with a bouquet of flowers, worked seamlessly into the theatrical mix. In the evening's most moving moment, the crowd recognized John Brunious in the video and offered up a spontaneous ovation to the late Preservation Hall mainstay. What amazes me most about Maedgen's presentation is how it can transmit so much love for and understanding of traditional New Orleans music without ever pandering to the audience or resorting to the usual cliches that most New Orleans performers use to translate content. When asked, of course, they will provide the hokum. Expect much umbrella twirling and faux second lining when the Bingo! troupe joins the Preservation Hall band at Lincoln Center next week.

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