Ok, so Tin Cup Serenade didn’t exactly put out a record this year, or even play all that much. However, I did manage to catch a recent show of theirs at the cozy and aromatic Revolution Cafe in the Mission, and it was one of my favorite shows of the year. The vibe was intimate and everyone started bouncing off the walls when they launched into their swingin’ number “All I Can Do is Cry.”
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Tin Cup Serenade are a vocal-driven swing and early jazz group. They also mix in occasional Bob Wills-style western swing and Caribbean calypso tunes. That might sound like well-traveled territory, but they set themselves apart with lyrically clever original songs that are both authentic and totally modern. There are not very many 1930s calypso songs that mention Dick Cheney, for example, as they do in “Manitoba.” Singer/guitarist Rolf Wilkinson has one of my favorite voices in the bay area. It’s not your typical lounge croon that every other boring male jazz singer guy tries to do. His is a more vulnerable Chet Baker-y whimper. Their self-titled album from 2008 still gets a ton of spins from me and is definitely still worthy of attention in 2010.
Vic Wong writes for the San Francisco-focused blog Mission Mission.