This guy’s smarter and wittier than the “worldly and urbane” Mick Jagger! So says legendary rock journalist Lisa Robinson in her recent memoir There Goes Gravity, and I’m inclined to believe her. David Johanson (aka Buster Poindexter) was arguably the king of rock in early 1970s New York, as the lead singer of glam punk legends the New York Dolls.
Poindexter is Johansen’s martini sipping, jacket required alter ego. At this point, after retiring and returning to the Buster multiple times, it essentially signifies that Johanson will be singing the Poindexter repertoire, while wearing a pompadour. When he talks about himself in the act, he calls himself David.
Johansen is at his best when assaying international material – a rattling version of calypso standard “Zombie Jamboree” is one of the high points, as is a ragged boogie take on Italo-pop classic “Volare” (made famous by Dean Martin). Sometimes the act veers even closer to pure rock-and-roll, as with his interpretation of “Piece of My Heart” that owes its arrangement to the hit Janis Joplin version (for the record, that’s a very good thing).
Johansen clearly has real affection for the pop standards and early R&B that form the backbone of this act. The fun here is hearing these songs given new life with a combination of excellent musicianship and gutbucket energy worthy of the New York Dolls.
And there’s nothing particularly ironic about the act, either – the closest Johansen comes to schtick are the Vegas jokes he tells between songs, and even these gems of bad taste feel somehow lovingly curated, and are sometimes presented with such conviction that the punchline arrives with unexpected surprise and joy. This act is a hard swinging good time, and definitely recommended.
For tickets, click here.
To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.