The Dragon's Den

December 29, 2003

During a song breakdown, Schatzy!’s leader and accordion/guitar player Greg Schatz improvised lyrics about the annoying cell phone users in the corner of the room. He was trying to get them more invloved in the show, but I don't think it worked.

Schatz's sly standoffish persona and irreverent attitude went well with his wry lyrics. The band was Schatz, drummer Paul Santopadre, bassist Steve Calandra and guitarist Jeremy Lyons.

Their rock music was fun and upbeat at heart thanks to the accordion, which gave everything a silly feel. It was hard not to laugh at an extended rock accordion ending. Fans of They Might Be Giants would love this. The accordion was used equally for shuffling Klezmer-tinged numbers and straight love songs(“Be My Honey Bee," "Crazy About You”). The band also did instrumentals, but the ramblin’ rousers sounded and felt better than the Eastern-tinged numbers, which got straight up creepy.

Lyons on back-up vocals really sold the spirit of the band, as he is a star in his own right. It’s just that the ‘50’s tone of his guitar made it seem like everything was gonna morph into surf music. The musicianship was top-notch, but the lyrics were the focus of the songs. This was most obvious at the end of the set when dancers left the floor as the dark lyrics of a song became more evident(“I just turn ‘round and ‘round/my feet can’t touch the ground”).

Mid-set, Lyons invited a guest vocalist onstage, which prompted the audience to get into the music more. The band did a country-tinged cover of a James P. Johnson song called “Old Fashion Love, and they did a funny/silly song entitled “How is the housecat, now?” Santopadre added to the country feeling by standing the whole show. The silliness didn’t end, as later songs were titled “Macaroni and Cheese” and “Mardi Gras is Every Day.”

The only problem I had with the band was that Schatz seemed to go through the motions at points, singing into the side of the microphone. This made me want to leave early, even though he was endearing as he made fun of his inability to play a guitar solo by gyrating wildly during it.

The band was playing for tips this night(“The tip jar is relatively empty, which leaves it at maximum potential”). The band is at maximum potential, as well.

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