It begins with a single wooden chair. Swirling in the air. Up and down, sideways, spinning swinging to and fro, bouncing about as the alternating grip of one giddy man’s hands make for a bizarre man-chair tango on the dance floor of Stables. (scroll down for photos and video)
This middle-aged, jovial patron despite his antics on the dance floor, was just as sane and (relatively) sober as most of the crowd last Saturday night. He, like everyone on there had just paid at least $15 to see a Baltimore music legend; Cary Ziegler and his band Expensive Hobby (CZEH)- and the show was just five minutes away.
The place was sold out and the anticipation; palpable. Amidst the clang of porcelain dishes and shot glasses were conversations about everyone’s “first-time” seeing CZ, and for many it was like pleasantly losing their virginity; we saw CZ in 1992 at this place or he played at so and so and it was mind-blowing. One patron even laughed at how she used hang out with CZ’s sister and they would always hear the band practicing at the family house. Of course she had no idea then that dear brother was “CZ,” of Crack the Sky fame. It seemed as though everyone wanted to go back; back to that place a decade or two ago when music seemed well, just better.
Not everyone who wanted to got to see CZ last weekend because ticket demand greatly exceeded supply. Stables can only hold so many people. The rush on after-market tickets was evident on Facebook leading up to the show. The lucky ones were inside Stables this night though, and that was thanks to Tina and Stanley Stamidis, the proprietors who worked some real magic to get CZEH in the house. Now back to the House.
At 9:29pm the man – chair tango came to an inevitable but artful end and Carey and his crew ascended Stable’s stage unceremoniously. The next few moments were free-flowing and magical as the band beautifully reproduced a classic rock staple that you know, but probably can’t recall. It doesn’t even matter what the name of the song was, it was rich, melodic, a rock and roll symphony.
And that’s what Ziegler specializes in; big, epic tunes with complex arrangements and harmonies. He favors songs with major “movements” instead of cheesy hooks and the standard verse-chorus, verse-chorus. Indeed, they play music from the same classic rock era that other cover bands do but they pick the hard ones . . . because they can.
No one does Frank Zappa! says 98Rock’s Sarah Fleischer but Ziegler does and he did it Saturday. Then he followed it up with a mind-blowing Tom Sawyer by Rush. Who does that? Carey does.
Some call them a musician’s band but don’t be fooled, the crowd at Stables on Saturday was filled with people who cut their teeth on “Hot Razors in my Heart” and lost their virginity to Strawberry Fields or Stairway to Heaven or Love in an Elevator. Everybody loves Carey.
Why They “Suck”
The night was with filled with one jam after another, from Steely Dan to CSNY. There are no words to describe Ziegler’s infectious presence onstage either. He spins and thrashes about like a kid in candy store. Clearly he is truly happy to be performing despite his long absences from the stage over the years.
Ziegler’s shtick is worth the price of admission too. A running gag between and his most die-hard fans is how much the band “sucks” and its one “shitty” tune after another. No doubt this comes from the music being so good it is truly hard to describe; so why even try.
One showgoer announced his birthday and Ziegler asked if he wanted the band to play “Happy Birthday.” The gentleman declined and Carey playfully said into the microphone “thanks for not making us play that shit.” Funny, but the message is clear: this band plays “high-brow” rock and roll. One local guitarist explains it like this; “most bands are like drinking Boon’s Farm, CZEH is a fine wine with all the complexity subtle notes, and intricate parts that make it worth the money.”
See for Yourself
Many of you who read this blog and most of the people in the crowd that night at Stables believe one thing: that the music of the 60’s 70’s and some of the 80’s was “singular,” and distinctively better than the decades before and after it. We may be wrong, who cares, but this show and this night make it undeniable that like the chair dance man, we all want to go back for at least a little while to that time. Thanks CZ for taking us back.
So you couldn’t get tickets? We’ve got you covered. Here is HD video of their opening song, and yes we know the name of it. If you really want to know the song title and who wrote it but you just can’t remember, go to our Facebook page here, we will put you out of your misery. And finally, of course, pics from the show below.
These pictures are high quality, don’t forget to press the HD button!
Do you have some awesome pics from a show? Share them with us and they could be featured in the “What You Missed” series. You get photo credit and we get them to share them with our readers! Contact Shelley at Shelley@carrollcountylive.com