When I heard that Izzy Zaidman, former lead guitar player for Wayne “The Train” Hancock was starting a new band, I was conflicted. Izzy was fired from Hancock’s band for assaulting steel guitar player Tony Locke, and when I spoke with Hancock in August, he said Izzy had been “black balled from the scene.” BUT, though Tony was the one who came up on the losing end of the fight, Wayne made it sound like both men were at least equally as culpable in the situation.
My stance from the beginning was that it is none of our business what happened, and talking about it can only descend into making assumptions and side taking. I am about the music. Izzy is one of the best guitar players in the underground roots scene, and this can’t be denied. Still, Wayne Hancock is a legend in that same scene, and his words must be respected. So I walked into this show with this conflict buzzing through my head.
Izzy and the Kesstronics could have let me out easy by just not being that good. I could have forgotten the whole Hancock/Izzy/Tony Locke situation and moved on. But the band was good. They were real good. In fact as far as talent, they might be one of the best new bands this year, if not the best. I have to temper that by saying they are definitely more rockabilly than country, but they fit nicely in that far but still connected branch of the underground country world that includes people like The Reverend Horton Heat, Rosie Flores, Brian Setzer, etc.
Izzy and the Kesstronics is made up of four ringer musicians. I never saw Izzy with Wayne Hancock, and it was hard to visualize him there because Izzy is just too good of a guitar player, too good of a front man, and too good of a songwriter to play second fiddle to anyone. And having said that, the Slovene drummer, Gasper Bertoncelj was a show stealer. Simply put, Izzy and the Kesstronics were an amazing, mind blowing, high energy, intense band that didn’t let up for one second.
Again, this wasn’t much of a twang thang, but you still had a similar feeling in the room. It was helped along by the presence of the Bullfiddle Daddy Dan Enriquez sporting a Hank III shirt. Dan played upright bass for Wayne Hancock around ’02-’03, and was responsible for introducing Wayne to my favorite lead guitar player for Hancock of all time, Eddie Biebel. Dan sat in for a few songs with the band, and was a hell of a good guy to hang out with.
I could see how Izzy could be playing right into the hand of the Izzy haters, basing himself out of Brooklyn, the pompador, the racy lyrics of the “single” off the new album, “24/7.” I don’t know that I would want Izzy to date my sister, but from a musical standpoint, Izzy and the Kesstronics are superb, and I would go watch them live again, and again.
Izzy has “IT”; the thing it takes to be a successful front man. He has a commanding stage presence: something about the way be plays on the back of the pickup, and the way he commands the audience from the stage. I hate to break it to the Izzy haters, but if they keep writing songs, playing out, and cutting albums, there’s no stopping Izzy and the Kesstronics.
Listen to an interview with Izzy and the Kesstronics on Outlaw Radio Episode 69.
Izzy sitting in with opening band “Step It Up and Go” fronted by a badass rockabilly girl Nikki, and the owner of the venue Johnny B playing bass.
Izzy and the Kesstronics:
We all Fall Down: