A Lesson in Jersey Grammar from the Fab Faux

Flashback to First Night--December 31--in Montclair. Onstage, the Fab Faux, the mind-bogglingly good Beatles cover band.

"Happy New Year!" bassist Will Lee called to the audience. He's from Texas, but he spoke very well. (Years of playing in Paul Shaffer's Letterman band have ironed out his regionalisms.)

Guitarist Jimmy Vivino leaned into his mike and noted that on this side of the Hudson River, the correct greeting is "Happy New YEAZZ!" The audience, packed into the pews of the First Congregational Church on South Fullerton Avenue, shouted back in kind.

Vivino pointed out that he grew up in Paterson and attended Montclair State, so he was speaking on good authority,

Lee, who is tall and gangly and white-haired and moves around the stage like an agitated marionette or a character in a Tim Burton fantasy, picked up the linguistic challenge.

"Happy New YEAZZ," he repeated, trying out the phrase. "Is that possessive or plural?"

Vivino’s bald (or perhaps shaved) dome gleamed under a spotlight, his black Van Dyke beard (if that’s the term) and Blues Brothers-esque shades looking even darker against his skin.

"It’s JERSEY," he said.

The audience cheered and the band rocked on.

The difference between hearing these amazingly gifted and charismatic musicians play classic Beatles songs like "I Feel Fine" or "No Reply" or "I’m A Loser" and listening to the songs on CD (or, in my day, on the original 45’s) is like the difference between watching a movie on an iPod and watching it on a Cinemascope screen. (Does Cinemascope even exist anymore?)

Anyway, you get the idea. You hear things in it that you didn’t remember or never knew were there. The rhythm, the harmonies, the power and genius of the music, knocked me out. For the millionth time. (I’ve been a Beatles guy, not a Stones guy, since I was 14 and first heard "I Saw Her Standing There.")

The band finished with a maniacal "I Am The Walrus."

That was the second of the three sold-out 40-minute sets the Fab Faux did on First Night. They invited everyone to come and hear a full Fab Faux show, in which they promised to take no prisoners, wring everybody out like dishrags.

Can’t wait. But will have to. The five-piece band, augmented by the Hogshead Horns and the Creme Tangerine Strings, will be coming our way…..

JAN 19 — Peekskill NY, Paramount Center for the Arts (cross-border raids ok by us when necessary)

APR 5 — Glenside PA (outside Philly), Keswick Theater

JUN 28 — Red Bank, Count Basie Theater


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