Playing with Catastrophe

Izzy and the Catastrophics typify the American band experience — five gypsies, five instruments, one van, late nights and a long road.

"We live in the van and eat at every Chinese buffet around America," says guitarist and frontman Izzy Zaidman.

Zaidman, a native New Yorker, has bases in New Orleans and Northern California, but his home is the stage.

"There are ups and downs about living on the road, but spending my nights on the stage performing — that's what I belong doing," Zaidman says.

This year, the band's tour took them to Florida, Louisiana, California, Oregon and New York, as well as Belgium and the Netherlands.

Izzy and the Catastrophics — bassist Ethan Sobatta, drummer Mikey Cannon, saxophonist Emiliano Vernizzi and trombonist Chapman Sowash — will play at 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

The band's live shows are prone to improvisational interludes, playful — sometimes vulgar — stage banter and round robin-style sets in which each band member chooses a song on impulse.

"One night, for all I know, you may hear nothing but Charlie Parker and Django Reinhardt, and on another night you might hear nothing but original music," Zaidman says.

The band purposefully doesn't choose its music beforehand, so it can wait to judge the crowd and the energy.

"Sometimes there is an audience hanging on every word, but every once in a while, you have a strictly drunk-dancing crowd, and they don't want to hear anything you say," Zaidman says. "Just keep the music going."

With the exception of Reinhardt, all the band's music falls into the American roots genre. However, its originals lean more toward rock 'n' roll with some surf runs and a more modern — even "raunchy" — edge.

Earlier this year, the band released its second album, "Lucky Dragon Swing Buffet: Dinner Price," a nod to the group's Asian-food diet. The album features Izzy and three Catastrophics along with guest musicians from New York and New Orleans. Each track on the CD has a different flavor and different style of roots music: straight swing, rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and jazz, Zaidman says.

The band is working on a seven-track, danceable swing EP, "Lucky Dragon Swing Buffet: Lunch Price," to be released in January.

Cover to the show at Alex's is $5. Call 541-482-8818 or see

Share This Story