spent the weekend with welfy in western Pennsylvania, as an early celebration of Valentine's Day. It was to be a short weekend, as I didn't get in until Saturday evening and would have to leave on Sunday evening. I did make it there early enough for the centerpiece of our plans, a concert. This wasn't just any concert, it was her brother, Tony Mentzer. Tony has been a fixture of the regional music scene for the past 25 years in various projects; playing live and making albums. His recent mini-tour of the region is a farewell to live performance for him, culminating in the final show in Youngstown on Saturday evening.
Tony's music is eclectic, strange, and humorous and its most obvious point of reference is Frank Zappa. Like Zappa, Tony has an acute pop-sense for melody and hook regardless of the genre he decides to plant it in. It should be noted that Tony is not afraid of any genre, moving through them and blending them deftly; country & western embellishments, rock and roll fury and bombast, latin horns and rhythms, stripped-down folk. But then he will give it completely absurd lyrics and/or do a number of things to it in the arrangement: fragment the structure, beat it to a pulp with the monotony of reptition, perform abrupt key and tempo changes, alternate between sparse and cacophony. Layered on top of it all is an array of effects on the vocals and instruments as well as the insertion of various noise effects, samples, and tape-loops. Its creator self-describes the result as "mad-scientist" music, a convenient description which is only half right. It is mad indeed, but less science and more of a feeling your way through; a pinch of this and a touch of that, served as an ephemeral witch's brew.
For the show, Tony had some hired guns on-hand to bring the music to life, comprised largely of members of another area band who opened the show. Props must be given at this time to point out that, some little known group (whose name I don't even know) has already penned the ultimate love song, so all of you wanna-be lyricists can hang-it-up. It was truly an early Valentines Day gift to hear "Touch Me Where I Pee" crooned so earnestly and heart-felt. It nearly brought a tear to my cynical eye and warmed a bitter heart to know that true love does exist. The members of this band later transformed themselves into Tony's band, dubbed the Tony Mentzer Oddball Allstars. Shrouded in a smoke-machine haze and a variety of costumes and masks, they emerged on-stage to back Tony for his swan song amidst a bar full of family, friends and local scene-rats.
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