The Two Man Gentlemen Band's original brand of raucous, retro vaudevillian swing is fast becoming an underground sensation. Three short years ago, The Gentlemen were playing marathon sets for tips in New York City's parks and subways. These days, they traverse the country incessantly, playing hundreds of shows per year for legions of dedicated fans and even catching the attention of big-names like Bob Dylan & Willie Nelson, for whom The Gents opened a handful of shows last summer.
The Gentlemen's memorable, pithy compositions combine the sounds of hot jazz, vintage rhythm & blues, and tin-pan alley with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Andy Bean pounds out intricate, rapid-fire chord changes and melodies on an assortment of antique 4-string guitars and banjos. Bassist Fuller Condon dances around the fingerboard with a punchy, driving style that renders a drummer unnecessary. Their "keen vocal harmonies" (The New Yorker) recall 20s and 30s groups like the Mills Brothers and The Cats & The Fiddle while their lyrics are "so off the beaten path as to be virtually cliche free." (Bluegrass Journal) Few other songwriters so deftly address such a wide range of topics; from the familiar - love, fancy beer, reefer - to the utterly peculiar - William Howard Taft, mathematics, rabbit meat.
The Two Man Gentlemen Band's live show - honed by three years of barnstorming from coast to coast - is an absolute must-see. Some reviews: "Terrifically entertaining!" (Mountain Xpress - Asheville, NC) "An unparalleled experiment in controlled chaos!" (Seven Days - Burlington, VT) "This kind of good time is rarely seen anymore!" (Valley Advocate - Northampton, MA). "Romping, outstanding fun!" (About.com)
Consummate entertainers, The Gents match their instrumental prowess with enough charisma to woo even the most skeptical listener. They very simply command your attention. Their improvised banter, with each other and the audience, is as entertaining as the music. And the stomping shout-alongs that pepper their shows whip crowds into a sort of frenzy not typically associated with acoustics duos. Their showmanship and panache transcend whatever niche their musical style suggests. "I don't like much old-fashioned music," The Gentlemen hear often from concertgoers, "but I love you guys!"
The Two Man Gentlemen Band has released four albums with us, and two more - a live recording and a studio release - will be available in early 2010.
“The Gentlemen push the comic curtain wide open, searching for at least a grin with nearly all of their songs. Even tracks about disasters like the Hindenburg explosion are spry enough to sound like two men shaking off sadness with musical smiles.”
- Grayson Currin, The Independent (Chapel Hill, NC)
"AWESOME. These guys rule in a totally old-timey, banjo and stand-up bass way. They've got charisma, energy and kazoos, and they definitely have fun up there, with compositions that are a little bit dorky and a little bit dirty. Banjo player Andy Bean works the crowd, addressing members of the audience and his own band with the honorific "friend," and employing other affectations of a Depression-era huckster. Their lyrics are twee and hilarious, and each song clips along at approximately twelve-million bpms... The band should be atop every geek's play list. They played, not one, but two songs related to mathematics — and Bean worked the word "erudite" into his introduction to a song which used the square root of two as a metaphor for love. (The other math-related song led to a listing of prime numbers; we as a crowd made it to 11 (someone said 9, ending the fun)...
A song about Badminton brought about the first instance of audience participation. We were instructed to chant, "Smack the bird" (or alternatively, "Smack the cock" — you see what I mean about a little bit dirty?) during the chorus...
To cap off this complete and joyful celebration of dorkitude, we had a brief discussion on William Howard Taft — the last president to have facial hair in office — followed by a song...
I have such a crush on Bean, and his fedora." Emily Hulme, AM NY's AM/FM blog
"The Two Man Gentlemen Band , at the very least, should go down in the history books as the duo who made the kazoo hip again." Bluegrass Journal
"I don’t know what it is about banjos, kazoos, and pork-pie hats that makes the kids go crazy, but it’s clear that I’ve seen the future of musical comedy. With an upright bass player, a banjo, a small drum set, and various novelty bells and whistles, retro-Vaudeville pickers the Two Man Gentlemen Band got a jaded crowd of New York industry folk to clap, stomp, and shout out prime numbers (the last for their charming love song “Square Root of Two”). By the time they got around to a sing-along about William Howard Taft (“the last president to wear facial hair”), I was smitten—these zinger-happy, fast-talking folkies are gentlemen indeed." Pop Matters
"The Two Man Gentlemen Band does old-timey country-folk that can get mighty raucous"
- Time Out New York
"The Two Man Gentlemen Band play an antiquated but very lively form of 20’s kazoo and banjo powered speakeasy folk-jazz." SongsIllinois
"The crowd was growing during Rocketship Park, and by the time The Two Man Gentleman Band hit the stage, the room was near capacity and ready to jam with the duo. The Gents were an undoubted highlight of the evening, opening with a genre-bending cover of the theme from Ghostbusters that would have had Ray Parker Jr. rethinking the saxophone in favor of the Gentlemen’s instrument of choice, the kazoo. The cover set the tone for the rest of their set, in which most songs call for audience participation on some level, from shouting out lyrics to making them up as you go. Half-way through the set, singer Andy Bean told the audience that he and his fellow Gentleman, Fuller Condon, had been thinking of starting a dance craze. “And what better week than this to start a dance craze?” He asked. The crowd certainly seemed in agreement; an audience member volunteered to come on stage to assist the Gentlemen in demonstrating "The Drip Dry," their new -- very freestyle -- dance sensation.
But beyond the shouting, the sing-alongs, the dance moves and the camp, the Gentlemen can’t help but put on a hell of a show. It’s a sort of Vaudevillian, 1920s swinging sound that avoids banjo clichés (bluegrass and country), thanks in equal part to the technical talents of Andy Bean and the contrast of the upright bass -- not to mention an upright played by someone not afraid to go in for the groove. Watching Condon solo on the bass, his hands flying effortlessly up and down the neck, is worth a ticket to a Two Man Gentleman Band show on its own. Throw in their witty lyrics, tight vocal harmonies, ability to work just about any crowd, dashing outfits and non-stop street-performer sensibilities, and you have a must-see live band. Just be prepared for a little history lesson, the Gentleman closed Tuesday’s show with fan favorite "William Howard Taft", based ever-so-loosely on the life of our illustrious 27th president." The Tripwire
"The Two Man Gentlemen Band is literally some good old-fashioned fun. The duo plays unabashedly nerdy tunes about subjects like William Howard Taft in a jaunty Depression-era style." AMNY
"It would be easy to write off The Two Man Gentlemen Band as a mere nostalgic novelty act. While their charmingly quirky performances hark back to the glory days of vaudeville, to dismiss them as gimmicky is a mistake. Armed with an upright bass, a plectrum banjo and a veritable treasure chest of bizarre instruments — including free kazoos for the entire audience — the duo’s live act is an unparalleled experiment in controlled chaos." -Seven Days - Vermont's Independent Voice
"Comprised of a banjo and upright bass, this duo provides comical bite-sized songs that revolve around one (and often more) of the following: joyful sweetness, double entendre, history, politics and math. The important thing is, it's catchy and it's funny." Enchanted Pants
"You’ll dig these guys, who are a collision of Tin Pan Alley and locker-room humor." Orlando Weekly
"Given that we're talking about a couple of guys who dress like they're from the 1930s, play music that wouldn't seem out of place at a vaudeville show and make ample use of kazoos, The Two Man Gentlemen Band could easily veer into being way too precious.
But good songs are the best kind of saving grace, and Andy Bean and Fuller Condon have filled "Heavy Petting" with clever, upbeat music that you'd almost have to call rollicking. It fits, given the time-travel nature of the duo. Fans of old-time country, early jazz and anything recorded on half-inch thick 78 rpm records will find a lot to love." The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky and Southern Indiana)
"The Two Man Gentleman went on first, and they were a riot! They handed out free kazoos, as they do at all their show. The Gents are extremely well read, and their songs are about the most obscure things and events. They are absolutely hysterical! I took some videos, but I’m afraid my hand wasn’t quite steady because, try as I might, I just couldn’t stop myself from laughing." Ammuse's Weblog
"With songs that honor President William Howard Taft for being larger than life and that compare true love to the square root of two, the duo's original compositions create the foundation for their onstage folly. The songs are mostly off-center and sometimes off-color."
-By TAMARA McCLARAN, Shorelines (FL) Jacksonville.com
"A wondrous cacophony of bass thump, cheeky lyrics, and vertiginous vocalizing. That the prevailing aesthetic harks to Prohibition makes the party yet more fun. This kind of good time is rarely seen any more." The Valley Advocate - Northampton, MA
James Heflin, 3/09
"A bit like a smaller version of the Asylum Street Spankers, the group brings all the trappings of a medicine show." Nuvo - Indianapolis, IN
Scott Shoger - 2/09
"Old-timey music that sounds like it came straight out of a bouncing barroom in rural Dixieland. The gentlemen sing clever, tongue-in-cheek ditties and generally offer a swinging good time." Creative Loafing Tampa - Tampa, FL
Leilani Polk, 1/09
"Unique, fresh, exciting and refreshingly difficult to label. The songs vary in subject matter but maintain a specific and most likable insanity. The Gentlemen know what it takes to keep a live audience engrossed and on their feet. Well aware of the limitations that go along with being in a band of only two, the Two Man Gentlemen Band know how to effectively harness the energy of their audience to maximize the effect of their sets. A nonstop hoopla of interactive and old-fashioned entertainment. Their wittily sly lyrics, combined with their unique style and execution set them apart from some of their schtickier, less authentic "Americana" peers. The Two Man Gentlemen band offers a familiar sound that is like nothing you've ever heard before."
- Charleston Post & Courier Charleston, SC
Jamie Resch, 12/08
"When you first listen to banjo player Andy Bean and string bassist Fuller Condon perform as the folk duo the Two Man Gentlemen Band, it may seem as though recycling old music styles has finally reached a ridiculous pitch. But after a few minutes you eventually come to terms with the truth: These two guys actually make a living combining the styles of old vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, and hot jazz into a frenetically fun musical performance. They offer some seriously playful wit." Style Weekly - Richmond, VA
-Mike Hilleary, 4/09
Award: Favorite Use of a Banjo.
"The Two Man Gentleman Band sounds like they somehow got stranded in the wrong century, and it's a good thing. It's just two snappily dressed dudes singing strangely catchy, often naughty little songs. Musically, it is a novelty band in the best possible sense, blending bluegrass, Gypsy swing, blues and old-timey vaudeville into a sound that cuts through the din in the dingiest dive bar. Just think of it as classic, all-purpose drinking music, and you're most of the way there."
Michael Machosky, 8/08
"Even though their musicianship is absolutely airtight, their show is as much comedy routine as it is concert. And their well-honed comic timing, live antics and authentic wardrobe make their performances a continual amusement."
Boa Le-Huu, 2/09