LITTLE COULD BE FINER THAN catching NYC’s Two-Man Gentlemen Band live in concert. Clad in dark, tailored suits, ties, spit-shined shoes and hats (plus suspenders and hankies when required), this sly, anachronistic banjo and upright bass duo pay tribute to the golden age of Vaudevillian swing. At their charmingly clever shows, bawdy, double-entendre-filled odes to “Heavy Petting” sidle up next to historically accurate —yet witty— portraits of historic events and figures (“The Hindenburg Disaster”, “William Howard Taft”), and neither seem out of place.
Think TMBG, pre-electricity.
Known for passing out free kazoos to their crowds for audience “hum-alongs”, this buzzworthy (pun intended) act tours fulltime and is a favorite at this laid-back counterculture java joint.
They’re out in suppor of their newest album, which banjoist and frontman Andy Bean says is selling briskly and earning critical praise.
“We recorded it in two days this past September, and it realy does a good job of capturing what we’re all about right now.”
Still, he’s concerned that the crowd in Savannah will be much smaller than usual this time around, due to an unfortunate turn of events.
“We didn’t realize until recently that we’re playing on Oscar night,” Bean frets.
“So, please make sure people know that we’ll certainly be more entertaining than anything on that broadcast. Plus, we offer our firm guarantee that we look nicer in person than any celebrity does on a small screen. We’ll be a feast for the eyes.”
In advance of his (and bassist Fuler Condon’s) upcoming show with fellow period dressers, Knoxville “jazzgrass” quartet Christabel & The Jons, Bean graciously offered up a true gentleman’s take on pressing matters of our time.
You and your partner are avid badminton players. What’s another sport you enjoy?
Andy Bean: Velocipedaling, actually. I ride a unicycle.
Which current Presidential candidate would you say is the most gentlemanly?
Andy Bean: Probably Hillary Clinton.
How could Britney Spears benefit from having a true gentleman in her life?
Andy Bean: The simple answer would just be proper grooming. That and defending her honor while keeping her out of trouble.
How should a gentleman rebuff a suitor?
Andy Bean: That’s a good question. We run into this problem quite a lot on the road. I think it’s a very delicate procedure. usually a flash of the ol’ wedding ring will do, or just a skillful exit from a situation. For instance, I’ll say, “My gentleman partner is in need! I must attend to him!” I’m spoken for legally and my partner’s bond with his lady — while not legal— is just as important as mine.
Kanye West: gentleman or jackass?
Andy Bean: He has to be a gentleman, I think. We couldn’t call someone we don’t personally know a jackass.
Do you ever have the urge to chuck this whole chivalrous bit, take off the hot suits, plug into some Marshall Stacks and start playing nasty, mean-spirited songs that demean women and advocate animal cruelty?
Andy Bean: We’d have to give that one a partial yes and a partial no. We’d like to be louder sometimes, so we’d consider using the Marshall stack, but we’d plug our banjo into it and see what might happen. I don’t think amplification per se is inherently ungentlemanly. As far as songs that demean women or advocate cruelty to animals, we’d shy away from that. Or, we’d simply veil it with such clever innuendo that few people would grasp our true intentions.
True or false: a gentleman never lies.
Andy Bean: Ahhh... That’s false, because white lies often protect a woman’s feelings. Sometimes a gentleman has to lie more than anybody.