When a sign goes up behind a stage and flyers are handed out with words instructing you to ‘SIT and Die…’ even in the most unassuming and down-right likeable of American restaurant bars, you never know quite what you are in for. To ease the situation, the bar in question is ‘Rodeo’ and is, (as carefully side-stepped earlier), very much an ‘American’ bar, and not so atypical of its location on the corner of East 27th Street, Manhattan, New York City.
The line-up of tonight’s entertainment slowly reveal themselves, pulling equipment past diners and onto the stage in front of their satirically authentic banner. ‘Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.’ - a three-piece specializing in hillbilly-styled ‘’ballads, boogies and blues’’ deliver an image and musical set that is as sharp as their wit and accompanying on-stage banter. In a high-pitched vernacular lead guitarist and singer Michael would certainly not look out of place in the Coen Brothers’ ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ (nor would the rest of the trio) and in character they are just as amiable.
Michael reveals on the band’s website that the an acronym in the band’s name was a complete accident; though initial absurdity has surely lead to something much more memorable. Residents of Manhattan for a number of decades now, the group effortlessly meet their aims of ‘making the old songs sound new and the new ones sound old.’ Ripping through standards by Johnny Cash and Hank Williams; the homage to period times and workmanship Americana that seems long gone is honest, and makes for an enjoyable experience. These self-proclaimed ‘yessirs’ are worthy of every deliberate representation and conscious portrayal, as well as those that are purely and simply the product of a lifelong immersion into the rockabilly sound, an era and a way of life that once was, maybe still is; but for now, on the streets of New York it is nothing more than a fine imitation of life - a life far removed, yet far and away as good a live act as you will have the darn good fortune to see.
Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. play at ‘Rodeo’ (‘New York’s Longest Running Honky-Tonk’) on the corner of E27th Street and 3rd Avenue on the second Wednesday of every month, and Otto’s Shrunken Head Tiki Bar and Lounge at 538 E14th Street on the last Thursday of every month.