Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs at DC9

Holly Golightly and Lawyer Dave.
Holly Golightly and Lawyer Dave. (Courtesy Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs)

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014 – There’s a lot of audience misdirection involved when it comes to grasping what’s going on with Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs.

The initial assumption that this is a full-sized band marks the start of it all. That’s because when they take the stage at venue like DC9, as they did recently, the first thing anyone notices is that the band only consists of Golightly, her musical partner Lawyer Dave, and the simplest of drum kits. The other and biggest misdirection might be just how close Golightly and Dave seem when you’re watching and listening to their set.

The career of Holly Golightly—her real middle name, by the way, with a hat tip to the central character of Truman Capote’s famous novella-turned-movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”—has already been ambitious and prosperous outside of her productivity with (or as) the Brokeoffs. She has a wide-ranging reputation for being one of the more prominent garage rock singer/songwriters to emerge from England.

So at first glance all of this would seem to be at odds with her bearded, Southern bred musical compatriot, Lawyer Dave. It seems like an unlikely partnership because in truth, it really is. But, as is so often the case in the entertainment world, that seems to be part of the reason the partnership works.

Both musicians wear their roots distinctively while they’re on stage. The differences are quite noticeable both in the way they play and the way they approach the audience. It isn’t fair to say that Golightly is perfectly “proper” in the British sense. But in comparison to Lawyer Dave, that might be an apt description.

A better analogy, though, might be to consider that her role in this ensemble is to play the straight woman to Lawyer Dave’s more off-the-cuff personality. Every anecdote he reels off during their set is clearly something she’s heard numerous times already. Yet she reacts either in mock horror to each tall tale, or, at times, with measured patience with it all as he rambles his way through.

In short, there’s an obvious, grounded quality to the way the two of them interact and perform together. It’s organic, stripped down, and is what it is.

Musically, aside from Lawyer Dave’s drum set, there isn’t much in the way of bells and whistles in this ensemble’s output. But that’s because much of it is provided by the duo themselves in their storytelling intervals, which are just as vivid as their music is.

As noted earlier, Golightly is primarily known for her garage rock sound. So not surprisingly, even when she’s performing with Lawyer Dave, those garage rock influences, at least aesthetically, are still present. The way she plays is still loose and basic, her output characterized by an intelligent simplicity that never complicates things for the audience. This kind of simplicity sounds easy enough to pull off, but as in both sports and art, apparent ease like this takes a great deal of practice and behind-the-scenes work to achieve.

But Golightly isn’t the entire act. As the back part of the “& the Brokeoffs” Lawyer Dave seems also has a noticeable amount of influence on their sound, or at least the surface of it. That’s because while everything they play is loose and grimy in the way someone might expect a certain variation of blues-rock to be, there’s also an evident infusion of country and folk into their output.

This merger of styles is not only evident in the way they play either. It’s also apparent in the way they present their music and lyrics. There’s a twangy, almost cornpone charm to the way they mildly bicker during their set and the way play off each other during each song.

They’ve been doing this for about a decade, of course, so some of their shtick is really old hat for this pair, so much so that it hardly seems rehearsed. In truth, it’s just the way their relationship has developed over time. It’s also why they’re so entertaining to listen to during their performance in such a wonderfully disarming way.

This is exactly the reason why these songs and their personalities resonate so well with the audience, as occurred during their recent performance here. Holly Golightly and Lawyer Dave just enjoy playing music and performing music together. And obviously, their audience enjoys it, too.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17