Review: Tyne and The Fastlyne at Zeno’s

tyne

(28 April 2015) STATE COLLEGE, PA — First of all, all I’m going to do here is gush. Second, I’m going to call them a bluegrass band, even though they do other things. I’m going to call them that because if somebody asked me, “What do they sound like” I’d say, “Like a grittier Union Station,” and that there’s a bluegrass band, more or less. Whatever you call them, Tyne and The Fastlyne are one of central Pennsylvania’s best bands, and could go banjo-to-banjo with anybody anywhere.

Tyne Palazzi sings and plays banjo at such a high level that it’s breathtaking to hear her. The musician sitting next to me had never heard her before and was completely enraptured the whole time. “I didn’t expect this,” he said. Palazzi’s banjo playing is effortless. Even when she’s playing the most complicated figures or soloing way up in the teensy frets, she looks like it’s the easiest thing in the world. And her voice. Sweet lord, her voice. I know this is a facile comparison, but when I walked in they were playing Mick Ralphs’ “Oh, Atlanta,” which for me will always be an Alison Krauss song (watch), and Tyne nailed it. There are very few singers whom I can compare favorably to Krauss, but Tyne Palazzi makes that list.

tyne2Bill “Wiggus” Wilgus shreds on mandolin and guitar. He’s a complete joy to listen to because he employs his impressive chops in the service of the music, never as a means of grabbing attention. And when he and Palazzi are playing lines in unison or trading solos, it’s a thing of beauty. He also adds harmony vocals (as do drummer Kevin Lowe and bassist John Kennedy), something every bluegrass outfit needs.

Lowe and Kennedy are rock solid. Music like this absolutely depends on strong rhythm. The relationship of the bass and drums to the rest of the band is more complex than you might think, though. In the best bluegrass music, the banjo and other stringed instruments are also carrying a lot of the rhythmic load, so the rhythm section needs to be solid but sensitive. Kennedy and Lowe fit this bill perfectly. Kennedy even stepped to the front to sing a song while I was there: Johnny Cash’s relationship tale “Mean Eyed Cat.”

This band just happens to be based in central PA. If you walked in on them in a club anywhere in the U.S., you’d think you’d walked in on a very special night. And you’d be right.

POEM: Saturday afternoon at the bookstore

store

Saturday afternoon at the bookstore

picture this place
as the shimmering sight
of water after a long trip
across the burning desert
glistening with welcome

:

it’s sunny as fuck
Everything But The Girl
is spinning on the dusty turntable
shuffle shuffle
shuffle shuffle

there’s a little curly-haired kid
wandering the store
speaking that gibberish
toddlers mean. so. much.
but nobody understands

some folks are dressed for summer
fooled by the light
most are dressed for winter
shell-shocked by the coldest
February and March on record

a very elderly man plays chess
against a teenage boy
it’s not clear who’s winning
or whether winning
is even the point

new record: XTC
Andy’s respectable street
now two little girls
chase each other, screaming
running behind the counter

/ / /

Jason Crane
4 April 2015
State College, PA

POEM: onion snow

onion

onion snow

Years ago I left the North;
ended up in a place where
people wear shorts outside
at Christmastime.

I thought I’d died and gone
to heaven, except Tucson
was real. Carne asada
enchiladas, elegante style,

served during the set break
at the restaurant where we
played for the salseros.
It all seems so long ago.

Now the onion snow falls
on the recycling bin
outside the store as I leave
work to walk home.

It’s called onion snow,
presumably, because
the sight of it this close
to April makes one cry.

/ / /

Jason Crane
1 April 2015
Oak Street

I’m not sure if I’ll write a poem each day in April. And honestly, this one was written a few minutes after midnight on April 2, so I guess I already missed the first day.

POEM: tonight I miss New York

nyc

tonight I miss New York

tonight I miss New York
so bad it makes my stomach hurt

I long for it like the tan stuffed dog
I had when I was a little boy

I want to take New York into my arms
pull it tight to my chest
feel the warmth against my skin

tonight I need its hard streets
under these Chinatown boots

the sound of the subway coming up
through the grate in the sidewalk
where the snow doesn’t stick

tonight all I want is to go back there
to remember how the parts of me that stick out
and the parts of me that curve in
fit perfectly into its wild beautiful jigsaw

tonight I want to flee these fucking fields
run from these goddamn hills
back where the trees were planted
where they didn’t just happen
where somebody intended the green

tonight I miss New York
ten years is a very long time

/ / /

Jason Crane
15 February 2015
Oak Street

Image source: Obvious Child