Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Roulette Sisters @Barbès, Feb. 13th

Saturday night, Bestest Boy and I headed to Barbès in Park Slope to see the reunion of The Roulette Sisters, a quartet of talented women who play country/blues influenced-music, drawing upon both music of the early 20th Century as well as original compositions. The first time I saw them also happened to be the last time they played back prior to their breakup in October of 2007. While we may not know exactly why these fine ladies called it quits 2-1/2 years ago, last night's two hour gig radiated love and charm, with a healthy dose of sass.

Led mostly by Mamie Minch on resonator guitar, the ladies played a lively set full of
playfulness, flirtation, some heartbreak and overt double entendres (or even "single entendre" as Minch winked at one point). Minch's throaty, sultry voice reminded me at times of a sexy Kathleen Turner during her mid-'80s heyday, suggesting that she has indeed seen it all. In contrast, Meg Reichardt's sweet, girlier voice evoked an innocence that was more appropriate for the less racy selections, as she did some tight pickin' on her guitar. Meanwhile, Megan Burleyson served as a wonderfully sturdy backbone to the music on washboard, and really brought it home on lead vocals in a cover of Memphis Minnie's "Selling My Pork Chops." Last, but not least, Karen Waltuch's viola rounded out the songs with a fullness that made it feel like there was at times a fifth singer in the band. Here is a newer song about being lonely on New Year's Eve, written and sang by Waltuch:

The Roulette Sisters, who technically are not related by blood, exhibited many of the same dynamics you might observe in a familial situation, poking fun at each other with sly barbs yet united in all their togetherness. Their instrumentation sounded great musically, and their harmonies were gorgeous. They packed the shoebox-sized Barbès with both newcomers and steadfast fans, several of whom had their requests for songs like "Sugar In My Bowl" and "Keep On Churnin'" fulfilled. I especially liked the fire of "Hottest Gal in Town."

Shortly after midnight, The Roulette Sisters finished their gig and sent the warmed and delighted crowd home into the cold night air. What a cheerful early Valentine to love!