Concert Review: Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen at The Mint, west Los Angeles, 9-14-2013

Live music is one of my favorite things about being alive. It can be such a pain: scrambling for tickets, driving to the venue, finding parking, waiting around, basketball teams positioning themselves in front of me. But then, when the music is good enough, none of that matters.

Actually, the show I attended last weekend was relatively low on pain, being at The Mint, a tiny neighborhood-style club where no one is more than 50 feet from the stage and where the sound is decent from all angles. There was some annoyance when the club opted to charge separately for the second act, and cleared the joint after the first band. Tacky! But that’s just carping. None of that matters.

I didn’t know what I was getting into. My friend said “he’s worth seeing” and I trust her taste so I tagged along. There are special risks and rewards when I attend a concert by musicians unknown to me.  When the music is all new to you, you can miss a lot. But when the music is new, it can be a revelation. Like this show.

New Orleans pianist Jon Cleary and his band, the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, bring joy and fun and beaucoup soul to the stage. Apparently Cleary is a New Orleans musicologist, which might explain the wide assortment of funk, blues, shuffle,  boogie-woogie and other tunes they played. It is a special treat when a band enjoys one another’s company and playing as much as these guys do.

Below is a sample from a similar show. The song is split into two parts. Check out the band introductions near the end of the second clip, which they incorporate into the tune.


It makes me happy to know that in certain places around the world, including New Orleans, there is great music casually available every night, every where you turn. I was lucky enough to live in Los Angeles in the late 1970s when that was true here. I absolutely must get to spend some time in New Orleans. I have never been there and that is just so wrong!


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