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Karen Mantler at the Lizard Lounge

This ended being a pretty interesting evening. I thought at first that I was just seeing Karen Mantler, but this show was actually part of a cabaret series put on by the Dresden Dolls. I also liked the intimate setting of the Lizard Lounge; there's no stage so you can get very close to the perfomers.

It was nice being surprised; although I'd never heard Karen's music, a friend introduced me to that of her parents Carla Bley (the resemblance is quite strong) and Michael Mantler a long time ago; in some ways, it wasn't a surprise since her off-kilter jazzy pop owes a lot to her mother's simiar sensibility. She went to Berklee but I don't hold that against her ! Instead, whatever tricky chord changes and arrangements are there in the service of her songs, most of which somehow have something to do or start with her cat Arnold, his death, and the subsequent search for a new pet. OK, it sounds a bit precious but she has the wit to carry it off, and live, a band of top-notch musicians made it both fun and impressive. (That's Arturo O'Ferrill on her left, by the way. Unfortunately, not using flash resulted in a lot of blurry pictures.) I was especially impressed with the drummer, Michael Evans.

After the show we chatted, and, since she's still looking for a pet, I suggested a rabbit because they don't shed — she did a song about shedding during her set. Plus, I added, they have are easy to care for and have some cat-like mannerisms. The downside is that they like to nibble on cords, books, and things, at least when they're young. I also asked her why she was selling a special “bootleg edition” of her Pet Project album; evidently Virgin Classics has not treated her well. (All her other releases are on WATT, which also puts out her parent's work.) So she is getting back as best she can. She didn't seem to be upset that a few of her songs show up on AudioGalaxy. Too bad I didn't get to ask her how she put together the XtraWATT website !

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