Just three short years ago, The Gentlemen were playing marathon sets for tips in New York City's parks and subways. These days, they traverse the country incessantly, playing hundreds of shows per year for legions of dedicated fans and even catching the attention of big names like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, for whom The Gents opened a handful of shows last summer.
The Gentlemen's memorable, pithy compositions combine the sounds of hot jazz, vintage rhythm and blues and Tin Pan Alley with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Andy Bean pounds out intricate, rapid-fire chord changes and melodies on an assortment of antique four-string guitars and banjos. Bassist Fuller Condon dances around the fingerboard with a punchy, driving style that renders a drummer unnecessary. Their “keen vocal harmonies” (The New Yorker) recall 20s and 30s groups like the Mills Brothers and The Cats and the Fiddle, while their lyrics are “so off the beaten path as to be virtually cliché-free” (Bluegrass Journal). Few other songwriters so deftly address such a wide range of topics; from the familiar – love, fancy beer, reefer – to utterly peculiar (William Howard Taft, mathematics, rabbit meat).
The Two Man Gentlemen Band's live show, honed by three years of barnstorming from coast to coast, is an absolute must-see. Some reviews: “Terrifically entertaining!” (Mountain Xpress, Asheville, NC). “An unparalleled experiment in controlled chaos!” (Seven Days, Burlington, VT). “This kind of good time is rarely seen anymore!” (Valley Advocate, Northampton, MA). “Romping, outstanding fun!” (About.com). Consummate entertainers, The Gents match their instrumental prowess with enough charisma to woo even the most skeptical listener; they very simply command your attention. Their improvised banter, with each other and the audience, is as entertaining as the music. And the stomping shout-alongs that pepper their shows whip crowds into a sort of frenzy not typically associated with acoustic duos, with their showmanship and panache transcending whatever niche their musical style suggests.
The Two Man Gentlemen Band have released four albums on New York City's Serious Business Records. Two more albums – a live recording and a studio release – are coming out this year.
Catch them Thursday, July 8, at 6 p.m. at Pickin’ in the Park, in Ridgway’s Rollans Park, and at 9:30 p.m. at the Sherbino Theatre.