Live Review: Acoustic Madness

Cadieux Café  Detroit, MI

Contact: Bob Monteleone, [email protected]

Web: acousticmadness.com 

Players: Bob Monteleone, vocals, acoustic guitars; Jorian Olk-Szost, acoustic upright bass; Mitch Purdy, Cajon, mandolin

Material: True to form, Acoustic Madness likes to play with lyrical and musically unorthodox concepts. They are rooted in Americana (blues, rock, bluegrass, country), but add structural and progressive elements to what they do that expands the genre. For instance, “Change the Way You Change” sounds like early Radiohead, with its subtle use of special effects and textures. “Loose Lips” harbors 10cc, Beatlesque and Badfinger-type whimsy, with a Tin Pan Alley sensibility. “Well It’s Alright” is an exciting mix of blues, country, trance and jam band.

Musicianship: This is top-shelf talent on display. Monteleone is a multi-faceted guitarist able to shift gears depending on the context of a song and what’s required. From stellar slide work to alternate tunings, he’s got all bases covered. His lead vocals are somewhat pedestrian, but effective in that they allow him the ability to adopt almost any style. Purdy is equally adept on mandolin and other stringed instruments but, in this case, primarily focuses on the Cajon. He brings out a lot of richness and depth of tone through his nimble fingers and intricate beats. Olk-Szost completes the ensemble by providing diversity and legit technique in walking patterns and runs. That low end is the glue that melds it all together.

Performance: Before a packed house in this historic Detroit area Belgian hub, the trio began, with a rare nugget from Tom Petty’s early band “Mudcrutch.” And from there they did a nearly 45 minute set dedicated to tracks off their new album Tiffany. A spirited bluegrass piece kicked up the pace and seemed to really connect with the crowd. The tune “Well It’s Alright” further stoked the band’s level of interplay and engagement. 

    Monteleone’s delicate use of effects and slide work was especially nice. About mid-way through the show, Purdy switched over from mandolin to the Cajon and the groove seemed to deepen, with heavy emphasis on swing and odd time signatures. Some of their performance also reflected a classic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young/Buffalo Springfield vibe via their mix of intense jamming and melodic hooks.

Summary: Acoustic Madness is a proven road-tested entity. They perform quite a bit on the Detroit and Midwestern scene. Although they have a strong visual presence, their focus is clearly on crafting unique and original songs designed to connect with true music fans and audiophiles.

Photo by Eric Harabadian