Black Carl & The Shakers

Black Carl & The Shakers
The Viper Room
West Hollywood, California
By Victoria Joyce

“It’s just a name.”

This was the answer to “Why is your band called Black Carl?” during an impromptu post-set curbside interview with the bass player for Shaker’s Showcase opener. Black Carl? Catchy. “We’ve been together for five years.” We love your lead singer. “Emma!? Yeah, we were friends for a few years before I even knew she could sing.” Life is full of surprises.

While the rest of the USA was burning alive with the heat, So Cal is positively balmy. Almost needed a sweater on this first July Saturday. Still stuffed from the BBQ’s of the 4th, we waltzed over to the Viper Room for a stunning showcase presented by The Shakers just back from touring.

LA-based and adorable, The Shakers has been working the road for the past few months and tonight was their Welcome Home Party. This was going to be an exciting show. So Ok, this isn’t exactly like returning Vets from Afghanistan. This is The Viper Room and this is how we roll. Semper Fi, dude.

Back to Black Carl. “Bless your lonely heart!” BC lead singer, Emma Pew belts out a song ala Janis Joplin with a Funk, Soul, Blues, R&B abandon. Backed up by four excellent musicians John Krause, Chad Leonard, Matt Noakes and Ian Woodward. Out of Tempe Arizona and headed to Alaska for a mini-tour, they love playing the Sunset Strip.

B’Carl keeps things in a primary Soulful groove with multi-dimensional strains of Country twang – love the wa-wa and snags of psychedelic cacophony. Really nice fleshed out melodies with haunting lyrics delivered lady lead singer Emma. Final number had a Rock-a-billy slide and a drop-dead finish called “You Make Me Shake.” And speaking of shaking – BC thanked the Shakers for including them on the bill. Nice manners.

The only thing we would change about Black Carl is to jazz up their look. They were a little on the Plain Jane side; jeans, tees, plaid shirts, blah. They pack a big mean punch and could use some snagged fishnets, glitter, leather, lace and smeared eye makeup. And Emma could dress up a little too. I mean, honestly kids, you ain’t in Tempe, Arizona anymore.

In between the bands, DJ Jamie Scap was spinning classic rock videos – a new thing for Fridays at the Viper; Sex Pistols, Led Zepplin, Iggy & Peaches. Only the best. We loved the vintage Stone Temple Pilots. Scott Weiland is still gorgeous. (Viper Trivia – Bartender Tommy Black in on leave and touring with Scott. Ok, that’s too much pretty on stage at once. The girls will melt.)

The Shakers took the Viper stage and the earth shook. Cutie pie lead singer, Jody Schell was in a striking little black lace dress sans her usual fringe Flapper look. An insider told us Ms. Schell was conflicted about ditching her signature tassels for a more sedate look. The result was very Audrey Hepburn meets Blondie and fan-tabulous!

The road-word paid off big time – the band was “tight, tight, tight” – to quote our favorite Breaking Bad character – Tuco. Opening with “I Don’t Want to Try” the LA fans squealed and screamed very happy to have The Shakers back in town.

“You like Rock and Roll?” was the rhetorical question Jody asked the fans. More screams. Their sound is rooted in their hometown Philly-Soul with tons of LA Pop Punk. With the amazing Chris Lee on guitar and Nick Woods on drums it’s a lot of bang for your buck.

After ordering waters and nachos from the stage, “This is a new song – it’s about stalking – a little bit,” The Shakers went into a slow soulful ballad and Jody got all Janis Joplin ala “Summertime.” This was a great evening for lady rockers.

Finishing up the evening with crowd-pleaser “Hey Lil’ Darlin” from The Shakers latest release “Oh So Loud” sounding a lot like Led Zeppelin backing up Amy Winehouse, it was nothing but a party. Shaken, not stirred.