The Junior League

Circle Bar

November 11, 2005

BY SARAH FONTENELLE


Last Friday night I hung out with The Junior League, and I don't mean the organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The Junior League I speak of is a New Orleans rock band, and i promise, they are a helluva lot more fun to hang out with. The group consists of personable lead guitarist/vocalist/self-proclaimed beer aficionado Joe Adragna, bass player/backup harmonizer/jokester Jason Wacha, and high energy drummer/all-around-great-stage-presence Brandon Panepinto. The rockin' trio entertained and was admired by a host of loyal followers at the Circle Bar last Friday night. This is a junior league we should all wish to join.

The band began the evening in laid-back fashion with original music influenced by such bands as The Beatles, Sloan, the Bee Gees, and the Monkees. The guys seemed happy to be there, and Joe made sure everyone in the bar felt like a part of The Junior League family with his big smile and comfortable rapport with bandmates and friends in the audience. After several jaunty numbers, and one especially noted as the-earworm-I-wouldn't-mind-having (aka: "Let Me Win"), the group monkeed around with a cover of "You Just May Be the One", by Mike Nesmith. Amidst upbeat songs with guitar riffs reminding me of Spoon and The Police, The Junior League also performed a couple of soulful "love songs" and a well received Old 97's cover(as evidenced by an audience member's parallel air guitar playing). As the night progressed, the guys loosened up even more and really began to rock out. At one point, the beer consumption climaxed and appeared to puppeteer a rendition of "I'm All Out of Love" by Air Supply, which I sheepishly admit I thoroughly enjoyed.

Joe successfully connected with the crowd and created a more personable atmosphere than the Circle Bar can create on its own. His inner rock star also emerged with increased beer flow as he jammed on his guitar and jumped around(not excessively). Jason was focused on the music, providing bass in a laid-back style. He was quick to drop his cigarette when a back-up vocal was required. At the drum set, Brandon visually split the other two band members while offering sharp and clean drum beats and a contagious energy. The three played tightly together with pleasant vocal harmonizing. The Junior League sounds much richer and fuller than expected, considering they only have three band members, and the overall performance was better than their last show at Tipitina's pre-Katrina. I don't know if my inclination to prefer Friday night's show has anything to do with venue or improvement in the band itself, but does it matter?

The Junior League’s music also has an element of VOE(Violation of Expectation) for the listener. The music is simple, clean, and repetitive with anxiously awaited moments of unexpected chord change or rise and fall of vocal pitch, all of which propel you to want to hear the music over and over again. Oh, yeah, and "Let Me Win" is one of the best pop songs I've ever heard.

Don't miss the Junior League December 17 @ Red Star in Baton Rouge and December 18 @ Howlin Wolf.


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