Noir band performs residency at Park Slope bar

Noir band performs residency at Park Slope bar
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Missing this act would be a crime.

A local band that makes music fit for a noir film is taking over Barbès, the Park Slope bar known for its sonically sophisticated crowd. Instrumental trio Big Lazy will darken the Slope stage on the first Friday of every month until the end of 2015. The band’s guitarist says that, of all the bars in Brooklyn, Barbès feels the most at home.

“We’ve played at every single club in the city, from the highest to the lowest and everything in between,” said Stephen Ulrich. “This place isn’t just another gig. It’s a different crowd. It’s people who love music and are there to listen to music. It’s not a watering hole. There’s a culture of music.”

The music of Big Lazy, a trio featuring Ulrich, drummer Yuval Lion, and bassist Andrew Hall, sounds like the score to a noir film, but Ulrich tries not to box in the band’s genre-spanning style. He used to describe it as “crime jazz” or “guitar noir,” but now prefers to invoke a mix of American music archetypes, including “twangy guitar and jazz and blues, surf music, rockabilly, and big city crime music but with elements of Southern and Western style.”

“I kind of learned long ago that once I gave it a brand name it became kind of a shtick,” Ulrich said.

Ulrich has experience with soundtracks — he has scored film and television shows for the Public Broadcasting Service and Home Box Office. His music style draws on crime films from the mid-20th century, says Ulrich, because it sets him apart from other musicians.

“My generation was about busting open boundaries between genres, but my generation is the punk rock generation,” Ulrich said. “I feel like everybody uses that influence so I try to avoid that. But what punk rock did for me is make me look at other kinds of music. And I got into rockabilly. It was a logical progression into spy movies and film noir.”

The monthly residency at Barbès will let the band experiment with different styles in front of a supportive crowd of regulars. But the bassist says what excites him is the idea of people hearing Big Lazy for the first time.

“The best part is when those new people come and check out our style,” said Hall. “It’s probably something they have never heard before.”

Big Lazy at Barbès [376 Ninth St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues in Park Slope, (347) 422–0248, www.barbesbrooklyn.com]. Sept. 4 at 10 pm. $10 suggested donation.

Reach reporter Eric Faynberg at (718) 260–2508 or by e-mail at efayn[email protected]cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ericfaynberg.