After the last tune had been played on Sunday, July 8, at The Ear Inn (326 Spring Street, Soho, New York City), Brian Nalepka — string bass, vocals, wit — caught my eye and smiled, “That was a GOOD night, Michael!” and he didn’t have to say anything more. What the EarRegulars created that night, as they have done for eleven years of Sundays, was magical. They demonstrated, for a few hours, how music is the best medicine for all kinds of woes.
The genuine heartfelt practitioners that night were Brian; John Gill, banjo, National guitar, vocal; Jon-Erik Kellso, trumpet, leader; New Orleans luminary Charlie Halloran, in New York for a few days, trombone, or as he likes to call it, “trampagne.” When you play as beautifully as Charlie does, you have wide-open linguistic license.
A few more words about him: I’d heard his recordings and they bring great joy: I’m thinking of his QUALITY SIX and CE BIGUINE, both celebrated on this blog (as well as wonderful work with half-a-dozen other bands) — but the closest we’d ever come to a real conversation was that we waved to each other across a fence at one of the Steamboat Stomps. So I was delighted to hear him in person, doing the thing at close range, and to find out that he is as gracious a person as he is a fine musician. And I don’t overstate.
The Fellows, that very night. Photograph by Neal Siegal.
Here are some highlights from early in the evening. The band just glowed, and so did we.
A rocking BOGALUSA STRUT:
A tender but groovy SOMEDAY SWEETHEART — a version that seems to need no comma in the middle:
Asking the musical question, WHO’S SORRY NOW? — here, it’s not fashionable to invoke the name of Miff Mole, but Charlie brings him to life in this century, exuberant and precise. And we’re so lucky to have this band sharing its love every Sunday:
And to close this segment, a down-home TISHOMINGO BLUES, wonderfully sung by John Gill:
I will have more joyous evidence — inspired and inspiring — to share with you after a brief interval.
May your happiness increase!