Baby Soda at Moto

I was planning on going to see The Wiyos on April 18th, as I mentioned in my last post, but by the time I called to make reservations for the show (which was free), it was sold out and there was a waiting list! As disappointed as I was, I got a fix of great swing/blues music later that night, courtesy of a band called Baby Soda.They were playing at a tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe and bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, named Moto. The place is wonderful; really cozy, with a relaxed vibe. They have live music there seven nights a week, and on Saturday – which was my first time at Moto, but I’m assuming it’s the same every night – the band played in the front corner of the room. Although Baby Soda has a number of musicians who play at any given show, Saturday’s line-up was a quartet: Peter Ford on one-string box bass (homemade!!!), Will Anderson on clarinet, Peter Anderson on saxophone, and Mikey Freedom Hart on guitar. I’m a big fan of Peter Ford’s bass, it’s most impressive. You play it somewhat like you would a trombone; it’s one string, as stated, attached to a long stick. To get the different notes, you have to move the stick at different angles. Peter and Will Anderson are twin brothers, both of whom currently study music at Julliard, and are talented and hardworking multi-instrumentalists. As for Mikey Freedom Hart, he and Peter Ford took turns singing, and he provided a nice base on guitar for Will and Peter’s jazz improvisations.

It was a lot of fun to sit there in the candlelight, listening to music which was smoother than my Guinness (and I love Guinness)… The band played a bunch of swing standards, such as “Trouble In Mind”, “I’ve Found A New Baby”, and a sassy little instrumental version of “Puttin’ On The Ritz”, as well as some not-so-standards. Both categories were played equally well, and were equally pleasing. The venue didn’t charge a cover, and the band passed a bucket around for tips, which I thought was really cool. Baby Soda sounded better than a lot of groups that charge ten or fifteen dollars for admission! The band also had a CD for sale for ten bucks, which I picked up and have been listening to ever since. They play in Washington Square Park most Saturday afternoons when the weather is nice, and there’s generally a bigger horn section playing with them when they do. I liked the balance of instruments at Saturday’s concert though, it suited Moto (um, and the amount of space there was). If the number of musicians who play at the park showed up at Moto, there wouldn’t be much space left for an audience! Although I guess we could always stand outside… The front door was propped open on Saturday, allowing people to come in and out as they pleased, and the noise from the traffic on the street and the nearby subway somehow didn’t distract from the performance, it only added to the comfortable feel of the cafe and the music.

The intimacy of Moto is part of it’s charm, and it was a wonderful place to get to see Baby Soda. A little cramped for dancing, yes, but the band’s music took control of me and I couldn’t sit still, so I tried to dance a little off to the side, where I wouldn’t be in the way of the waiters. Even the bartender was dancing and shuffling his feet behind the counter! It really is too bad I live over a hundred miles from Moto… But hey, who knows? I might have to make a trip back down there again, especially if Baby Soda is playing.

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