The Little Theatre Café has always struck me as temporal twilight, a layover in a caffeinated limbo if you will, on your way to or from cinematic bliss. While in this holding pattern and holding a cup of hot joe, you can dig any number of bands on the artistic fringe as they punch out acoustic or lightly amplified sets of electrified eclecticity. It's momentary, fleeting, and beautiful in its brevity.
Folks come from the reaches to dig the tunes. Most are passing through. The café isn't what you'd necessarily call a destination. But last Thursday it was crowded with fans of local gypsy-jazz sensations The Djangoners. Sure, some were there on their way to one the Little's assorted left-of-Hollywood offerings, but the majority of the crowd that packed the house was there start to finish for two sets of the quartet's thrills, trills, and, augmented fills.
The sound centered around the material of gypsy-jazz guitar godfather, Django Reinhardt. When you ponder the fact that Reinhardt did what he did with just two fingers on his fret hand -- the other two digits were rendered useless in a fire -- it's staggering. But honestly very few guitarists, or those in the supporting fiddle and bass roles, have mastered the style's syncopation, jump, and zing as well as the Djangoners.
At the band's core is Bobby Henrie, a six-string-slingin' southpaw wunderkind raised on bluegrass and red-hot rockabilly. Watching this man play on his upside-down guitar is a study in the style's confounding elegance and complicated simplicity. Five-string fiddle player (and maker) Eric Aceto offered up a similar blur of bowed notes that countered the melody when not countering it or harmonizing with it. His brother and rhythm guitarist Harry Aceto was absent, leaving Ithaca guitarist Dave Davies -- no, not that Dave Davies, Kinks fans -- to add the percussive chop, charm, and trombone. You might think that last piece would be a bit out of place, but in reality it just added to the parade. Dog-house bassist Brian Williams kept the bottom end thumping and hips twitching as he served up his trademark locomotive swing.
You can see The Djangoners at The Little Theatre Café every Thursday in December. See a movie too, if you're so inclined.