Monday, June 30, 2008

Just say...CHEESE!

L to R: Bobby Ricotta (keyboards), Richard Cheese (vocals and vodka), Frank Feta (drums), Charlie Limburger (bass)


Apologies to all interested parties regarding the untimely delay for this entry, too...

June was a busy month for shows. And where better to close it out than among a crowd of friends for a night on the town at the illustrious 9:30 Club? That's where the relentless 2/3 of the 1600 team (yep, Steve's still under the weather, but getting better) waited expectantly for an unusual seated show and for an act that defies categorization, part stand-up, part jazz virtuosity, and all 100% cheese. That's Richard Cheese, and Lounge Against the Machine, a primarily west coast act that has been on a favorite with talk shows like Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, to sold out performances in Vegas, New York and across the country. And naturally we were there, ready to dig the cheesy goodness and sing along.

In their first Washington appearance, the band (musical director Bobby Ricotta on keyboards, Frank Feta on the drums, and latest member Charlie Limberger on bass) played nearly all their hits with great gusto and the skillful proficiency you'd expect from these lounge lizards par excellence, backing crooner Richard Cheese's melodic murmurs to the max, and making fun of all your favorite alternative rock, hip hop, metal and pop tunes with great glee. No target was spared the patented Cheese treatment, "swankifying" beloved songs from Radiohead (both Airbag and Creep were recast as Vegas lounge numbers), Snoop Dog's classic Gin and Juice (a hilarious video of this can be found at the band's My Space page,, the Beastie Boys' Brass Monkey, Nena's 99 Luftballoons, and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, and dozens of other "lounge standards of the future."

In addition to the favorites that Richard Cheese and LATM have become famous for, there were also some new tunes in the repertoire that night. Buckcherry's Crazy Bitch was perfect fodder for the band's lounge treatment as well as AC/DC's You Shook Me. He also introduced a L'il Wayne song "the band just learned," holding up a supposed sheet of lyrics and incoherently mumbling his way through them, except for the occasionally-audible F-bomb or other slang. No doubt L'il Wayne would have been proud! But the song that brought down the house for our entire mad crew was Nine Inch Nails' Closer, Mr. Cheese's romantic delivery only accentuating the risque lyrics even more.

The rowdy, raucous show was a real crowd pleaser, whether for the newcomers in the audience, or the hardcore fans (like myself) that rushed to get tickets the moment they went on sale. And even though this was an all-ages show, they didn't spare us a single filthy word, nor a salacious aside. At one point, after gathering up a group of women to sit in the front row to provide him "inspiration," Cheese made smalltalk with a younger-than-average lady in the audience, who eventually said she was there with her Dad. "Nice parenting," he observed. Clad in a series of quality tuxedo jackets, including his signature tiger striped coat, RC came through loud and clear, his dulcet tones punctuated by many four letter words and other scandalous phrases that kept the audience on its toes. Whether high-kicking with a group of spirited attendees in the back of the house, or making overtures to any (and all) women who crossed his path as he worked the room, RC was a true lounge lizard unleashed, unashamed, and unrepentant.

The many quick retorts and ready repartee contrasted with the serious bona fides of Lounge Against The Machine as impressively-skilled jazz musicians. The intro to Chop Suey was one of many spots where the band, and pianist Bobby Ricotta in particular, showed that they could keep up with pretty much any "serious" jazz combo touring today. The band had no trouble keeping everyone's attention even as RC wandered through the crowd, causing no delays in the bouncing, fast-paced set.

1600's enthusiastic entourage included the triple Italian onslaught of muscle for hire Luca Brazzi, Consigliare Galluch, and our illustrious benefactor Pimp Daddy G, he who first told us of RC & LATM, and many of our other twisted friends who were on hand for an evening of familiar melodies and R rated punchlines. Seeing several of these characters as he proceeded through their row, RC remarked "All dudes. I'm outta here," as he spun on his heel and reversed his course. It was a truly ribald and randy event, and the gang all seemed to enjoy the hijinx, including new converts to the Cheese legacy like Pinky and Ellen, Sheryl, and co-host Jerry, who guffawed with great vigor as the show wore on...We were also gratified to have the high turnout from the legal profession by music mavens Dynamo Dave and the elusive Texas Stu (making his first 9:30 Club show and first live music event in many moons!), which assured merrymakers that at least someone would be able to come up with a bail bondsman if things got really out of hand. And just in case, Mike had Jen on speed-dial to bail us out in case the barristers were all dragged in, too...

But fortunately, the call never came. And we retain our perfect convictions.

An email from the fan club revealed yesterday that RC will have 3 new CDs out next year, "Lavapalooza," "Viva La Vodka," and "OK, Bartender." Check in with the Man Himself at to find out how you can pick them up before they are released to stores!

He said they'd be back here again. And with the reception they received, I have no doubts they'll return. Maybe next time, we can get them in for that interview!

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