Tangled Vine

Tangled Vine
"Lazy Lounge April 10, 2009 9:00 PM"

Performance review by Roger-Z (04/11/09)
Appeared in More Sugar, May 2009, P. 25A

When the economy goes south, most bands do a slow fade. Not so with Tangled Vine. They're booking more gigs than ever. Maybe that's because energy sells. And they're full of it -- energy that is! On this night at The Lazy Lounge in downtown White Plains, NY, they demonstrated all the wiles of a top club band. They started out right on time and played softly enough not to blow away the sparse, early evening crowd. One by one, the patrons started moving to the music and slowly drifting onto the dance floor. By the end of the second set, the joint was jumping.

Tangled Vine consists of Christine Tambakis on lead vocals, percussion; Kevin Totoian on lead vocals; Andy Able on guitar, vocals; and Nick Saya on drums. Normally, the band splits the lead vocals 50-50 between Ms. Tambakis and Mr. Totoian. However, because Totoian suffered from a sore throat this evening, the first set featured mostly Tambakis. She gave the "energizer bunny" a good run for his money. Singing effortlessly with an achingly pure voice, she danced, bounced, and played percussion with a tambourine in one hand and a shaker in another. Ms. Tambakis focused mostly on contemporary rock and R&B covering "Right as Pain" by Adele, K.T. Tunstall's "Suddenly I See" (with beautiful three-part harmony), "Put Your Records On" by Corrine Baily Rae, Sheryl Crow's "First Cut Is the Deepest," "Little by Little" by Susan Tedeschi, Sara Bareilles' "Love Song," and "Brass In Pocket" by The Pretenders. Kevin Totoian held up the classic rock edge with "Dead Flowers" by The Rolling Stones, Oasis' "Wonderwall" and "Folsom Prison" by Johnny Cash.

By the second performance, the room shifted to overflow status -- probably due to guitarist Andy Abel's birthday celebration. Man, that man can shred. Dressed as a British rocker (looking much like Paul Rogers from Bad Company), Abel slowly worked himself up into a fingers' flying frenzy by the end of the set. And what a classic rock set it was beginning with a James Brown style version of "Bobby McGee" and continuing with Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane," Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man," Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me," Pat Benatar's "Best Shot," and Squeeze's "Pulling Muscles from a Shell." With the band purring behind her like a cat toying with a mouse, Tambakis leapt into Van Halen's "Best of Both Worlds." The guitar volcano erupted. Lava flowed freely through The Face's "Stay with Me," The Stones' Satisfaction, and K.T. Tungstall's "Cherry Tree." The band closed with a fiery version of Joplin's "Piece of My Heart" that left the room thundering with applause.

Not enough can be said about the rock solid, no frills rhythm section of drummer Nick Saya and bassist Kevin Totoian. No overplaying here. Just the right grease to get everybody up and dancing.

In a country full of unemployment, bankruptcy, and imports, it says a lot that this home grown group, Tangled Vine, works steadily and continues to move up the music business ladder (corporate functions and casinos). In the manner of The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac, this supergroup features maximum talent in every position. Go out and see them.

2009 Roger-Z