Friday, September 19, 2014

The Two Man Gentlemen Band: An exercise in self-deception

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 9:56 AM

It’s that time of year again when the Two Man Gentlemen Band rolls in to town behind the wheel of a love bug or a magic bus or a minivan. The absurdist duo from parts unknown helped us ring summer in back in June, and now they’re fixin’ to help us ring it out tonight with three rollicking sets of hot retro swing and vaudevillian jams.

(The onstage banter is worth the price of admission alone — so long as you’re on the guest list.) 

Last week, we attempted to track down the elusive bassist known as “the Councilman” for a rare spoken-word interview. Alas, he proved as evasive as Sly Stone on the Dick Cavett Show.

So once again we had to settle for the Councilman’s other half, the loquacious (albeit vivacious) Andy Bean, as he bumbled his way around backstage somewhere in Nashville. 

METRO TIMES: Andy Bean, how goes it? 
ANDY BEAN: Good, good ... sorry for all the commotion.

MT: What's going on down there?
BEAN: The Councilman just came backstage, my daughter is climbing on everything, and everyone’s in tears.

MT: Sounds about right. Hey, last time you were in Detroit, you were on a Percocet bender. You doin' alright’?
BEAN: Oh, man … I think about Detroit every day. I’m still nursing a pulled quad from the last time we were there. We went over to the old Tiger Stadium site and ran the bases … the Councilman says I slowed down noticeably around second base. I haven't been the same since. 

MT: Ouch. You really gotta stretch, man. So you guys are back stateside from your U.K. tour. How’d that go?
BEAN: It was a three-week trip with about a week’s worth of demand. I seriously considered myriad alternate careers while we were there. Plumber, haberdasher, roustabout … I mean, if a two-man band makes music in a rural area and nobody’s there to hear it, are they still a two-man band?

MT: Hmm, that’s debatable. … Hey, so it sounds like you've got the family in tow on this tour. What’s it like with a wife and kid on the road?
BEAN: Well, you like to think you might be able to afford it … bring the family along and maybe still turn a profit. We can think we can, but then again maybe it’s just an exercise in self-deception.

MT: Speaking of self-deception, what's up with your TV career? You don't still have a show, do you?
BEAN: Yeah, Wander Over Yonder just got picked up for a second season. So now the family can eat for another year. 

 Hey, you ever eat at Cliff Bell’s?
BEAN: Yeah, last time we had the frog legs. They were wonderful. If you put frog legs on the menu, the Councilman can’t resist. He’s supposed to be a vegetarian, but I guess amphibians are OK. 

MT: For dessert they’ve got this vanilla Bean cheesecake they named after you. What about Counce? He got any desserts named after him?
BEAN: The vanilla part is named for the Councilman. (He’s a pretty vanilla character.)

MT: He is, isn’t he? I read somewhere that the Councilman struggles with playing bridges. Has he gotten any better at it?
BEAN: Almost all old jazz songs sound the same from a bass man’s perspective. It’s a constant struggle. We found that when a two-man band is playing, it usually sounds fine. Harmonically, there’s little conflict. It’s just one note at a time; it’s gonna sound OK. Think of the Two Man Gentlemen Band as two fingers playing one piano at the same time.

MT: So are there other two-man bands out there today?
BEAN: Nobody cops to it. We pretty much have the industry to ourselves. Everybody else is a duo, aspiring to be a trio or maybe a quartet. But this time around we’re actually bringing our percussionist friend Brian Kantor. Brian’s a world-class talent. I guess that makes us a trio.

MT: You guys play Cliff Bell’s an awful lot. You think maybe it’s time for a live album? The Two Man Gentlemen Band Live in Detroit?
BEAN: Well, I mean, what’s the best way to have a band get their best material out? One set? Two sets? Spread it out over several sets? And do you put that on DVD or VHS? Much like the Hilbert Questions, there are many open questions in two-man music today. I don’t want to get too philosophical with your readers, but these are open questions, like the 1900 mathematicians symposium. To solve them, you have to put them out there in the public.

MT: Uh, right ... so, this tour … has it got a name? 
BEAN: Yeah, we're calling it the Hilbert Tour. We put this tour on as a gift to Two Man Gentlemen Band enthusiasts. We haven’t been to most of these places for two years, so we give the gift of our presence. Some towns willingly accept it. Others spurn that gift.

MT: You keep bringing up this Hilbert guy. What is he, a magician? 
BEAN: Mathematician.

 That's what I said. Mathematician. ... Speaking of math, you've got three sets of two-man music at Cliff Bell’s? Isn't that a bit much?
BEAN: It’s like if you’re on a flight to Europe. You take whatever it is you need to get through three sets of two-man music.

MT: Like Percocet?
BEAN: Whatever it takes.

MT: Wait, are we talking about the audience or the band?
BEAN: As usual, I have no idea what you're talking about.

MT: OK, one last question: I thought you were supposed to be a Penn & Teller act. Last time you said the Councilman doesn’t even do magic ... that he oughta at least be able to juggle or something. Has he learned any new tricks or anything?
BEAN: Nope. Can’t even whistle.  

Come and whistle at the Councilman tonight and help get him over the bridge. If you can't whistle, then just buy the man a beer. (After about a dozen, he's liable to dance.) The Two Man Gentlemen Band plays tonight, Friday, Sept. 19, at Cliff Bell's. Doors at 7 p.m. $10. 2030 Park Ave, Detroit, 313-961-2543;

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