Drinkwater Brothers

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Drinkwater Brothers

Birdland Theater, NYC, August 20, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

The Drinkwater Brothers

The Drinkwater Brothers did something new for their first show at Birdland; they hosted the party, instead of joining Jim Caruso’s Cast Party upstairs. The twins, who have always blended blues with classic rock, performed some of their originals from their debut CD, Do Not Feed the Birds. The pair tends to highlight the history of music in their shows. Their own songs were adroitly original and fundamentally sound. “Lost in You,” very much rock ’n’ roll but also artsy for the jazz-club setting, set a confident tone.

The brothers, Matt and John, have grown in ways both different and similar since I first saw them. They seem to have agreed to specialize, so that they can take on different aspects of the music they play.

They also performed Broadway numbers, with John tackling the Sondheim classic, “Losing my Mind,” and Matt the more contemporary “If I Didn’t Believe in You” (Jason Robert Brown) from The Last Five Years. Each performed their solo songs to near perfection.

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Even more impressive was their performance of “You’re Nothing Without Me” (City of Angels). Having a scene partner to react to, they showcased their acting skills, playing off the lines and timing the competing characters’ parts well. The lines, “A show off, a blowhard/you’re equal parts hot air and gall!

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” were additionally endeared coming from performing brothers.

The brothers often have a guest performer; this evening it was Katie Dixon, who offered “Fever” (Eddie Cooley/Otis Blackwell). Her performance was strong, and she traded verses with each of the brothers, acting the alluring temptress. Well-rehearsed and in equal parts playful and effective, that song—and the show as a whole—exemplified what can be expected from the Drinkwater Brothers: competence and professionalism.

They were supported by Frank Cannizaro on drums, Douglas Brett on piano, and Andrew Brett on bass. Deserving high praise was Jonathan Russell on violin, who all but stole the show for a few songs. He joined the brothers for their signature song, “Stairway to Heaven,” adding a thrilling rock violin performance to the song’s instrumental solos.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see StruckChris.com