Ditty Bops live at Maxwell's [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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06-15-2005, 10:01 AM
Trudged over to Hoboken the other night to check out the Ditty Bops, one of my raves for 2004, who were opening up for Blanche at the legendary Maxwell's. The trip to Hoboken these days from my current environs is a bit, er, interesting...the rebuilt PATH station at the World Trade Center, well, it's not so much heading out over the Hudson, more like the way back...you're IN Ground Zero. at the very bottom, and with an open & very striking view. Of what amounts to a construction site, just one with a lot of recent history. But enough about that. A somber way to begin a trip, perhaps, but hey, it's been awhile since I've been to Hoboken, so I was pretty psyched.

Strike one. We get to the Brass Rail, where I haven't been in years, to sample one of their fine imported Hefeweizens served with raspberry syrup, only to find that the Hacker-Pschorr delivery didn't come in that week. They offered Widmer as a substitute, but that sucked years ago when I first tried it, and it sucked when I asked for a taste of it, too. Oh, well. We headed elsewhere for grub & a brew.

Strike two. We hit a pub about halfway to Maxwell's that had some very decent food, and a jukebox, one of those new video graphical jobbies with the touch screen. A bit hard to work, but a decent selection. Only problem was, I soon noticed, was that when you touched on an album, it offered up one, two, maybe three or four at the most, tunes to choose from. In every case what I wanted to hear was what I guess they refer to as a 'deep cut.' And for every deep cut you had to touch the screen again for 'more selections.' Once there, you are informed that to play a deep cut, you have to use 2 credits. Anyone else seen this? UNBELIEVABLE. In other words, if you don't want to hear the most popular or most obvious cuts that you've heard a million times already, you get half the number of plays. I guess that's so people like me can't empty someone's bar by playing something esoteric & unfamiliar off any number of GREATEST HITS albums. I said the hell with it & chose a bunch of toons off the one jazz album on the damned thing, which was a Coltrane collection. That and the Stones' Can't You Hear Me Knocking. If you're going to charge me double what you're going to charge someone who's going to force me to listen to the same songs I've heard ad nauseum for the past 30 years, I'm going to play some long songs that, chances are, nobody else wants to hear. Sheesh.

Strike three. We finally got to the Elysian Cafe, a bar that's over 100 years old, to find that it's been renovated...fine, no problem...but now it's a fancy, sit-down restaurant. Well, at least it's still the kind of place you can at least go in & have a beer. And it's not like they ruined any of the details, or anything...it was just a bit surprising to see what had basically been a dive of sorts turned into something fancy. On the positive side, they had a slide show depicting some of the history of the place, and many photos of its restoration. (It's a block away from Elysian Field, which is directly across the street from Maxwell's, where, according to a legend, albeit one that is often disputed, the first-ever professional baseball game was played some 150+ years ago)

Well, after all that, happy to say, the Ditty Bops did NOT disappoint. They were pretty darned great. They are...a bit folk, a bit Western Swing, a bit country, with great harmonies & period dress (1920s). Two girls, one w/a gitter, one trades off between mandolin & dulcimer, with a standup bass player & a guy who alternates between guitar, steel guitar, fiddle, and maybe one or two other things. Miles better to my ears than most roots acts these days...highlights were 'Shimmy Like My Sister Kate' & 'Breeze Black Night,' along with a couple of toons not on their self-titled debut album from last year.

Blanche came on next & were certainly competent, but they didn't exactly have great vocals & just seemed relatively uninteresting compared to the Bops. So after a couple of tunes we decided to cut our losses & leave with the good taste the openers provided us, which was definitely enough to cancel out any issues we had with our first Hoboken visit in many a moon. I highly recommend this band; you can check 'em out at


A visit there should make up for the fact that I spent more words on my evening than on the band itself. If not, boo hoo. But if you go there, be sure to check out the videos--especially the one for 'Wishful Thinking.' The live appearances on Conan O'Brien & Craig Ferguson are good also.

For those of you so inclined, there are links provided somewhere there--might be through the message board on their site--to one of those tape-trading sites, where there are a few of their shows available for free & legal download.

06-15-2005, 11:01 AM
Yeah, I saw 'em open for the dresden Dolls and was quite impressed. Did ya notice that Mitchell Froom produced their debut? I'm curious as to how far they can go without changing up their currently unique sound.

06-15-2005, 11:30 AM
Well, I don't know the Ditty Bops from the Betty Boops (is there really a band with that name? There should be), but I thoroughly enjoyed your writing about Hoboken. My wife and I used to live a street away from Maxwells, and it was a favorite place for us to eat and see good music. One of the highlights was having Chris Whitley sit at our table and bum cigarettes while we grabbed a bite before the show, then cramming into the backroom to watch him blow the roof off.

06-15-2005, 12:13 PM
I've only heard a couple of cuts from the Ditty Bops, liked them, plenty quirky enough to get my attention- they're on my never-shortening list to pick up. But, I also like Blanche's "If We Can't Trust The Doctors" disk quite a lot as well. I can see where the two styles might not complement each other in a concert setting to the point of satisfying audience members only familiar with one of them.