Live Review: Trevor McShane & the Very Incredible Band

The Write Off Room  Studio City, CA

Contact: [email protected]

Web: trevormcshane.com

Players: Trevor McShane, guitar, vocals; John Barnard, piano; Merrily Weeber, vocals; Dave Winstone, lead and slide guitar; Norm Sancho bass, vocals; George Green, drums; Paul Litteral trumpet; Steve Sadd, saxophone, Craig Kupka, trombone; Colin Kupka, saxophone; Joel Gotler, harmonica

Material: The set consisted of original songs and collaborations with a collective wealth of talented friends and musicians from various genres—blues, gospel, country, a Perry Como cover and a Jack Johnson duet "I Always Look Better." McShane’s songs exude hope, love, and  make the best of what you got-isms. Examples from the set are: "Nothing We Can't Do," "Love in the Afternoon," "Just Like Romeo and Juliet," and "Robert Johnson’s Guitar." McShane’s poetry and lyrics are very keen on the human condition.

Musicianship: McShane's solo guitar chops are evident in troubadour fashion on "Old Flame" and "It's A Very Big Word," holding the attention of the 60 or so attendees in the room. Yet every player in this lineup is equivalent to the Yankee’s finest. Dave Winstone, filling in for L.A. icon Fred Sokolow, played cutting blues and slide guitar, and Joel Gotler on harmonica drew applause several times. Ditto for the horn section, which included Craig Kupka’s son Colin on saxophone. Norm Sancho keeps the band thriving and breathing nicely on bass guitar.

Performance: McShane engages the audience even before he sings with corny jokes to keep the spirits high: "I was going to tell you a boxing joke, but I forgot the punchline," or "Did you hear about the actor who fell through the floorboard—he was going through a stage." McShane is also gracious with his stage as he invited friend and famous collaborator of the Archies, Ron Dante, for a rendition of "Sugar, Sugar" and "Just Getting Started," which had the whole crowd singing along. Merrily Weeber also sang lead vocals on a few poignant tunes,  "California" and "Good Morning," keeping the audience close too her.

Summary: This felt like a homecoming show as many folks in the audience have a connection to Trevor McShane, aka prominent entertainment lawyer Neville Johnson. But tonight was a celebration of his music and a message of hope, fun, love, and working with what you got. A gracious and humanitarian spirit permeated The Write Off Room—which incidentally has been beautifully restored from its origins as the first night club in the San Fernando Valley—into a multipurpose theater.