Tiny Lights: Esoterica Extraordinaire

By Dallas Embry

For musical diversity, it's hard to beat the entertainment that comes to Uncle Pleasant's, 2126 Preston, Louisville. Besides featuring many of the lesser-known local groups, owner Mark Smalley also brings in such groups as The Highwaymen, who play searing rock as well as a rap version of the Dave Dudley hit, "Six Days On The Road," and The Ark, who do some get-down roots Reggae.

On March 23rd, Smalley did it again by bringing in the New Jersey group Tiny Lights, purveyors of 'cosmogonous rock.'

With Donna Croughn singing lead, Jane Scarpatoni on violin, flute, and cello, Andy Demos on Saxophone and African drum, Dave Dreiwitz on trumpet and electric bass, and John Hamilton on vocals and lead guitar, these folks dish out a true potpourri of sounds.

With Croughn sounding like a mix of Michelle Shocked and Rickie Lee Jones, they began their set with "The Bridge," which started out as a hard-edged rock tune, but evolved into a softer blues before concluding as a jazz number. "Big Deal" evoked memories of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, It's A Beautiful Day, Steve Cropper, Jimmy Page, and the Righteous Brothers, while "Before You Go" made the rounds from classical to folk to jazz, with Demos doing some interesting rhythm work on 'table.'

"Painted Skies" began and ended with a lovely coda which sandwiched in a Moody Blues / Electric Light Orchestra / Deep Purple combination of sounds, while "Pushin' The Button" featured an atonal cello and wah-wah violin section which led into a '60s medley of Hendrix / Zeppelin / Guess Who and Sly and the Family Stone material.

There were times when Hamilton's guitar was revving like Pete Townsend in his speed days, and other times when it was so melodious that it almost made me cry, and the same can be said for the cello of Scarpatoni, who played Debussy and frenzied rock with equal aplomb.

Tiny Lights will return to Uncle Pleasant's for the Derby Eve show on Friday, May 5. They will be promoting their new record, Know It You Love, as well as pushing their current release Hazel's Wreath. The opening act will be Tuba Blooz, who play what they call themselves. For something almost completely different, yet with touches of the familiar, check them out.