Two Man Gentlemen Band promote ‘Heavy Petting’ at The Blue Vine
Coming from New York City’s Central Park to the center of Downtown Salisbury, Two Man Gentlemen Band visits The Blue Vine this Friday to regale the audience with clever songs and shower them with free kazoos.
The debonair pair takes you back to the days when men dressed nicely in public and performers never used vulgar language. That’s not to say they can’t be naughty while they are being nice. Just listen to their latest album, “Heavy Petting” and you’ll see what I mean.
Banjo player Andy Bean is the duo’s spokesman and lead singer, complemented by bassist and straight man Fuller Condon. Their high-energy, prohibition-era sound coupled with witty and politely bawdy lyrics gives the act a unique appeal.
Andy graciously spoke to me by phone recently from his NYC home. Here are excerpts from our conversation:
SH: On behalf of Salisbury, let me say we’re glad you are making a stop here.
AB: Thank you. Are you really entitled to represent the whole city like that?
SH: Yes. I am. I thought you’d like to know that you will fit right in at the place you’ll be performing. The Blue Vine is at the Meroney, a 102-year-old theater. In the past it has hosted Sarah Bernhardt, John Phillip Sousaó and even President William Howard Taft, about whom you’ve written a song.
AB: (Sounds delighted). Really? That’s great. In fact, from now on I think we’ll just play in historic theaters.
SH: Your song about President Taft presents an interesting history lesson, but it’s not very politically correct. Do you worry about offending plus-size audience members?
AB: That song is a simple recitation of fact and not at all hyperbolic. You can’t change historic record. And his name rhymes with “bath.” We have the utmost respect for President Taft. He served on the Supreme Court, you know. We have a “William Howard Taft” music video on our Myspace.
SH: I know, I saw it, it’s great. I even put it on the Salisbury Post Myspace. By the way, I invited you to be one of our Myspace friends ages ago and you didn’t respond. What’s up with that?
AB: I’m sorry. We’ve been on the road for three weeks and got behind. I’ll take care of that right away.
SH: Your partner is named Fuller Condon. Do you know if Fuller is a family name? My maiden name is Fuller. Maybe we’re related.
AB: Be sure to bring your family tree to the performance so we can examine it.
SH: OK. I will. Are you two native New Yorkers? How did you meet?
AB: I’m from New Hampshire, home of all great banjo music. Fuller is from Florida. We met as students at Columbia University eight years ago.
First we played together in a rock band that was not very good. Then one day, as a lark, we went out in Central Park, dressed in suits. I put out my banjo case, and to our amazement people started hurling money at us. So we became full time street musicians.
After a year of playing outside in all sorts of weather we discovered that if we went on tour we got to play indoors. And the out of town crowds have been better than we could have hoped for.
SH: I read that you two recently appeared in the movie “27 Dresses” playing the part of “Central Park street musicians.” Did you go to see the movie? I haven’t seen it. I heard it’s pretty bad.
AB: We didn’t see it. We couldn’t bear to put up the 20 bucks. But my parents went and confirmed we are in it. They said we looked just like ourselves.
SH: Did you audition for the part?
AB: No, we got that gig by some of the movie people just stumbling across us.
SH: You’re part of a rare and vanishing breed ó gentlemen. I agree with your song “A Gentleman Knows How to Love.” I think women really are attracted to that. Is this why you dress and act the way you do, so you’ll be chick magnets?
AB: We’ve always been very polite and acted well-educated. But when we started wearing suits, that’s when we really turned the corner career-wise. In fact, I’m sitting here at home right now wearing a button-up shirt and suspenders. But that’s because I can’t afford two wardrobes.
SH: In addition to being a gentleman, are you also a geek? I am referring to your wonderful song that says “my love for you is like the square root of two.”
AB: We have a long tradition of math songs, starting with “My Baby Has Got Prime Numbers” on our first album. I actually have a master’s degree in mathematics from Boston College. (He admits this rather sheepishly.) But then I discovered the real money is in four-string banjo.
SH: What about Fuller? Is he a math geek, too?
AB: No, he’s just a geek in general. But don’t put it in print that I said that.
SH: Don’t worry. I won’t. By the way, thanks for sending me a kazoo. I have it right here. I see it names your sponsor at “Kazoos.com.”
AB: Yes, our kind sponsors provide those for our audiences. In recognition of our efforts to promote their instruments, they recently presented us with gold-plated kazoos.
SH: My daughter says she saw you at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Festival last fall and you gave the entire crowd kazoos. She says that was a mistake. Why do you think she said that?
AB: Sometimes when the audience gets their kazoos they revert to a more primitive state. But then we politely ask the audience to “only kazoo when we kazoo.”
SH: I used to teach middle school music.
AB: Then you know what I’m talking about.
SH: I read that your album was recorded live to two-inch tape. I really like it. I think it gives it a sound of the past.
AB: (Seems happy I noticed.) I’m glad to hear you say that. It’s so easy these days for computers to make everything sound perfect. We want it to sound a little imperfect, to sound warmer. The art of playing an instrument well is becoming lost. We want people to know this is what we sound like, and if they come to a show, this is what they will hear.
SH: Since I’m a pacifist, I’d like to especially commend you for the song, “On the Badminton Court.” If only all the world leaders could work out their differences this way, instead of fighting wars. When you and Fuller have arguments, is this how you resolve differences, with a lively badminton match?
AB: Yes, we drive 40,00 miles a year together and always keep a badminton net in the trunk of our car.
SH: (Long pause) I’m sorry. I’m trying to catch up. I’m a rather slow writer.
AB: I’ll bet you’re a fast-talker, though.
You can hear the duo and watch their “William Howard Taft” music video at www.myspace.com/twomangentlemenband.
Their latest album is available from Serious Business Records:
www.seriousbusinessrecords.com/releases/show/31-Heavy-Pettingn n n
Pokey Lafarge opens for Two Man Gentleman Band Friday. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. There will be a $5 cover at the door.
The Blue Vine is located at 209 S. Main St. For more information call 704-797-0093. n n nContact Sarah Hall at email@example.com or 704-797-4271.
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