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Review: Lion's Den - January 30, 2004
by Michele Sydney Levy, Tribe 13


Satisfy that deep craving for denim blues after work with Less Nessman. That’s right you’ve heard the name, now meet the few bold enough to go where no West Village seedling has cropped up before.

NAOMI LESS, Lead Vocals and Guitar

“If we ever get sued, we’ll need to change the name.” [Say what?] Naomi says her crooning is “a blend of Aretha meets early Joan Osborne meets Melissa.” She began righting wrongs, writing songs, and stomping stages 8 years ago. She’s since appeared in Chicago, Georgia, Israel, and deep dish New York City.

“In the studio, Adam and I scat back and forth with his guitar and my syllables. My idols are Ella and Bonnie Raitt. Ella, because her voice IS her instrument, and Bonnie because she’s one of those powerful ladies whose heart, soul, and passion are IT.”

ADAM STEIN, Vocals and Funky, Junky, Juice-Jarring Guitar

Adam has played guitar for 19 years. He was with the bands Wonder Bread Men, Entropy, Red Rover, Marge, and Backwards Dog Religion, cutting his teeth on the alternative crowd before settling into those (you said it) stone-washed blues—rock on a hot, wood floor. Wind him up and watch him go; Thursday night Adam tackled challenging guitar solos with a smirk on his face. When I asked him about it after the gig at Lion’s Den, he answered:

“Did you know that when you pick up a phone, the dial tone is the note F, and that F is a certain frequency, that corresponds to the color green? Green is the Heart Chakra. People are moved by music and colors and energy and it’s all cyclical… Life energy… Vitamin C powder fizzing and popping in your water glass… LIFE! LIVE STRONG! BE BOLD!”

His philosophy comes through in the original song, “Empire,” Thursday’s opener. If you can’t feel Adam’s enthusiasm on the dance floor, you ain’t 98.6°F.

JIM HOPKINSON, Drums

Jim was raised by The Nasties—a pack of wolves roaming the streets of Boston. Alpha ratings for Jim’s enlightened rhythms. More than ever before, he’s supplying Naomi, Adam, and the rest of the band with light-up, Michael Jackson, “Billy Jean” panels of sidewalk to dance on.

ARI GOLD, on Bass

Gold is just what Less Nessman needed to connect with earthier listeners; those of us who crave bass therapy; those of us who lie on the floor while the speakers we’ve seasoned for 8 years thummm….

Backup singers Jen Landon and Cathy Conley were like the cuffs on Less’s jeans; the finishing touch; the crisp-sounding finesse. They were featured on songs Tribe 13 loves, like “Spread Your Love” and “Blank Page.” The band has gigs booked through February and are almost ready to lay down a demo.

Less Nessman: Not one ounce commercial. Sized to fit. Nostalgic. Like your favorite pair of jeans, like WKRP in Cincinnati, like their moving and authentic cover of The Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running”—you instinctively know where to put your feet. This is dance music. The beer-drinking crowd at Lion’s Den stayed glued in their spots, too obedient of the cabaret law, but on a chilly Thursday night, Less Nessman’s even better than hot cocoa, and stays with you longer.

You’re invited to toast originality and meet the band January 9 at Groove (MacDougal and West 3rd Street). If you really want to wow your Velentine’s date, plan ahead for Less Nessman’s special appearance at C-Note (Avenue C at 10th Street). Check www.lessnessman.com for updates.

If it’s worth hearing, Tribe 13 is listening.

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