The Circle Bar
April 03, 2005
Some seats around Jim Bianco were empty when his trio began their concert at The Circle Bar Sunday night. By the second-to-last song of the set, the band had people struggling to peer over the edge of the room. At that point the crowd was rolling with his every move, but he sealed the deal with his closer, a traditional jazz version of Prince's "Kiss."
Bianco was an acoustic guitarist/vocalist from L.A. that was joined by New Orleans native Brad Gordon, who delivered back-up vocals and played miniature trumpet, accordion, and electric piano. They were joined by drummer Jason Pipkin.
Bianco played lighthearted soul ditties that had traces of jazz and rock. "Best That You Can Do" had the set's fastest tempo, but it was still medium-paced. The song was ready for radio and perfect in its pop/rock catchiness. Pipkin added swagger to it with snare rim shots and playing.
Most of the songs were wavy, loungy, and lingering. The music swung and waltzed with brushes and the slow shhhhhh of ringing jazz cymbals.
Bianco doled out everyday first person tales colored by an ice cream weight that perked up the ears. Even on a darker song like "Tennessee Wedding," where Bianco screamed, "The devil made me do it," the song still bopped and Bianco retained his "I know something you don't" comforting yet condascending vocal delivery.
Bianco kicked his heels outward and danced lightly. He screamed every now and again, but his vocal performance was trademarked with a Mike Doughty-ish sandpaper drawl. Like a purposeful speech impediment in which the sides of his mouth were stretched by emotion.
Bianco also played delicate music. "More Hands" was a direct ballad: "I wish I had two tongues/So I can talk to you while we're kissing/In front of everyone/And tell you you're the only one I notice in the room."
The crowd was very into him, and Bianco was very talented. Next time into town he deserves a cover charge.