In memoriam: Rest In Peace Slim Richey. Play your guitar now and teach them all about they way of the Viper.
It is sad timing that I post this now. It was next up on my list of recent shows and venues that I have been to, experienced, and am to share with you all.
The Elephant Room. A dark, narrow staircase, a low slung ceiling, a bar and a music club...everything you would think and expect from a venue that is known for jazz. Like a scene out of an old Bogart movie, The Elephant Room has been the home to many a great bands. Most recently my musical journeys have allowed me the joy of taking in The Jitterbug Vipers at The Elephant Room.
The club is as I described, but let's talk about it from the street. Located right on Congress in Austin, Texas. The Elephant Room shares an entrance with another establishment. It is quite entertaining though. Sitting outside and waiting for my dad and a friend to join me you see folks open the door, go in and then walk back out side. The look at the sign above the door again, they open the door again, peek inside, and then disappear. It is humorous even more because this is exactly what I did.
We were here in the building for one purpose and one purpose only. The Jitterbug Vipers. I had a missed opportunity to catch them previously, but this Happy Hour show on Congress at The Elephant Room was just right. My dad made plans to go and I made plans to join him. I was even lucky enough to have a co worker join me for some Viper magic.
I will preface the review by letting you know that both of these performances I will talk about, were without Slim. He was fighting the good fight...and the band played on.
The first of the 2 performances was the band as a 3 piece...drums, stand up bass (ass to the people), and piano. Of course the silky and amazing vocals of Sarah Sharp up front to make those in the crowd swoon. The second performance added the thrill of a dirty sax. And a DAMN good one at that!
Playing their own brand of Viper Jazz is stunning. It is the mix of covers that have been arranged to be The Jitterbug Vipers own, or their truly original originals. The sheer fun of this band and the interactions the members have with each other is worth it every moment of your time.
The drummer, Masumi, with her flawless methodology of keeping the tempo and the time. The stand up bass technique of Francie is a hoot as you rarely see her face during the performance. The piano made for a pleasant fill without the most dangerous guitar of Slim.
On the second performance we caught, there was the added fun of a saxophone. It was bold and brassy and was a perfect addition to add more fill without Slim's guitar. This incarnation was more of my favorite as that dirty sax sound made the music feel fuller and more exciting.
All along you have the voice and beauty of Sarah Sharp standing up front pulling out the vocals with such ease it is hard not to exclaim "WHOA!" Her vocal control is what weaves the entire Viper story together right in front of you.
Although Slim Richey has taken the spotlight on his new forever gig, I hope the Jitterbug Vipers will carry on. As someone who has only heard the guitar sound of the Vipers on disc, I have also experienced that Jitterbug Viper sound and show live and in person. This is not something that should go away. It was great fun as I have described here and I look forward for everyone to get the chance to get a little Viper in them.