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Blast furnace fever 

Blast furnace fever

New York City's The Slackers are my favorite ska band. They rock steady without succumbing to the acne-pocked skate-punk homogenization so many ska bands adopt in feeble attempts to get laid. Their packed Milestones show was energetic, with a positive, palpable energy. It was a night full of music, including openers Amy Ryan and The Operatives, who served up a fresh, solid set; Doc Norris, who grooved light-heartedly without getting too weighty; and The Blackouts, who offered a tight, no-pretense set featuring a guitar player that f***ing shredded whenever they would let him.

            Standing before a Berlin Wall of Marshall amps and decked out in a shirt that was part Woodstock, part Wayne Newton, Leslie West brought Mountain roaring into the 21st century --- and into the ears of roughly 150 eager souls --- at Water Street Music Hall. The guitar tone was a little thin, despite its deafening volume. West can still play slick and vicious (though he plays one of those suspicious-looking, headstock-less guitar) and he sings with a remarkably powerful and soulful voice. Original drummer Corky Laing clowned around behind the kit, launching sticks off his ride cymbal like SCUDs in an attempt to blind the ageing diehards in front. Bassist Ritchie Scarlett rocked cool and classic with a pseudo-tight, black-eyeliner-ed come on.

            And now for something completely different. Maria Muldaur is sweet seduction set to music. With the supple support of her minimalist band, Muldaur cooed, crooned, and warbled with a laid back, post-coital-type bliss. The fine folks at The Montage no doubt went through a lot of ice and saved some coin on their utility bill that night, as Muldaur heated up the joint like a blast furnace with a fever. I could have roasted marshmallows of the PA speakers.

--- Frank De Blase

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