Steve Hancoff

Many contemporary guitarists drawn to pre-jazz tunes are content to capture the flavor of a piece while sacrificing much of its structure and nuance. Not so with Steve Hancoff. His opening set at the Montpelier Cultural Arts Center in Laurel last week was true to both the spirit and letter of the music he performed.

Or at least as true as can be expected of solo guitar transcriptions of pieces by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Jelly Roll Morton and Fletcher Henderson, among others. It was no small feat, for example, that Hancoff's made Morton's "Kansas City Stomps" and the ODJB's "Original Dixieland One-Step" sound perfectly suitable for finger-style guitar while echoing Morton's rhythmic idiosyncrasies and the ODJB's cornet, trombone and clarinet.

The music ranged from Basile Bares's quaint mid-19th-century parlor piece "Follies du Carnaval" to Django Reinhardt's harmonically sophisticated "Melodie au Crepuscule," and in each case Hancoff's affection for a tune's beauty or vitality was just as evident as his keen ear for detail.

-- Mike Joyce

Bootsy's Rubber Band

It was Halloween night, and the Funkateers that turned out to hear Bootsy's Rubber Band at Kilimanjaro were dotted with the wigged and the wigged out. But goofy excess has always been one of the many charms of the Parliament-Funkadelic thang.

Heading the madness was bassist-vocalist Bootsy Collins, who seems to be following George Clinton on the comeback trail and had no trouble rivaling Clinton's off-center charisma. And though it's been more than a decade (and at least one hip-hop revolution) since their heyday, Collins and a group of vets that included the P-Funk Horns and diapered guitarist Gary Shider had little trouble re-creating distinctive butt-shaking noise-fests impelled by thumping bass and punchy horns and sliced by psycho guitars.

From the delirium of "Bootzilla" to the more subdued "I'd Rather Be With You," the band was always tight. Even "Maggot Brain," a dated guitar dirge, made an appropriate Halloween soundtrack. He may be getting on, but there's still nobody who says "baby" like Bootsy, and while the Rubber Band didn't quite tear the roof off, it did blow out the sound system.

Alona Wartofsky