April 21, 2004
Houseman's Lounge was one of the rare mediocre performances I have seen at Tipitina's. The room was only a fourth full when Theryl "Houseman" deClouet and his band took the stage at midnight. The crowd seemed spent before the show started, and it's hard to get into music at Tip's if the whole crowd isn't feeling it. The exception to the rule is if the music is too good to be denied. On Wednesday night, it wasn't.
I was excited when the show started off with a funk instrumental showing off the talents of guitarist June Yamagishi and pianist Ivan Neville. But things didn't get interesting again until Houseman left the stage. Houseman walked onstage wearing black gloves and an overcoat covering a yellow gold lame shirt and tie.
Accompanied by two back-up singers, it was nice to hear some tight soul and blues from Houseman, but there wasn't anything spectacular about the songs. They could have been Al Green or Marvin Gaye C-sides. Houseman just doesn't have a great voice. He has a good voice, but it's not amazing enough to effectively carry his songs.
Houseman slipped in some funk, but it was reserved funk. Things got better when Houseman gave a solo to Yamagishi or Neville. In fact, the night's highlight came when Houseman handed the stage over to Neville for two funk songs. The crowd got back into it, but when Houseman came back onstage at 1:15, a lot of them headed for the door, including me.
Jazzfest season started off with a dud Wednesday night, but I still have hope.