Dressed to the nines

They call themselves gentlemen, but there is as much silliness as there is good old-fashioned courtesy beneath their finely dressed facade.

Always dressed to the hilt in tailored suits and bowler hats, The Two Man Gentlemen Band is a 1920s dance band minus the horns.

"We've long been infatuated with '20s and '30s jazz and pop records — Jelly Roll Morton and the Mills Brothers," says Andy Bean.

"Like anybody who's making music, you come out sounding like what you listen to — whether you like it or not."

The New York-based duo uses its original lyrics as an outlet for a comical and sometimes irreverent take on a range of topics, including the alcoholic President Franklin Pierce, the fat President William Howard Taft, the Hindenburg and Titanic disasters, liquor, chocolate milk and a naughty-sort of romance.

The gents are Bean on electric, 4-string guitar and vocals and Fuller Condon on upright bass, vocals and, occasionally, kazoo. Bean says their act is a musical portrait of life spent barnstorming across the United States.

"We write what we know," he says.

Bean and Condon, who toured through Southern Oregon in 2008, will return to present their toe-tapping rhythms and tight harmonies at 9 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, at CultureWorks, 310 Oak St., Ashland.

After meeting at an audition for a "lousy college rock band," the pair began busking at locations in New York City's underground transit system and Central Park. For their first street performance, Bean says, they played for four hours and earned $35, which barely paid for their beer afterward.

In 2007, after two summers of busking, the musicians began touring but incorporated their street ways into each of their shows. During a show, Bean and Condon frequently banter with each other and the crowd. Sing-alongs, shouts and stomps are encouraged at their lively performances.

"We learned how to put on a show in addition to playing music," says Bean.

Although trying to produce full-bodied rhythms and harmonies with just two men and two instruments has its challenges, Bean says "what seems like a limitation is actually very free."

"We play so much together, and when there's just two of us, we can hear each other very well and, therefore, can be freed up to improvise," he says.

The band's recent album, "¡Dos Amigos Una Fiesta!" released in August, also is its jazziest. Bean says their previous five albums embody more rag time and country.

"We like playing shows and making records, so we'll keep on playing shows and making records," he says.

The Gentlemen Band made its radio and television debut on the nationally syndicated "The Bob and Tom Show" in 2009. The duo also has opened concerts for the Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp 2009 summer tour.

The cover to the show at CultureWorks is $10. For more information, see www.thetwogentlemen.com or call 541-488-4888.

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