Not Waving But Drowning is, left to right, Mason Brown, Pinky Weitzman, Matthew Talmage and John Frazier. - Photo courtesy of Dave Ratzlow

A junkyard cabaret

Not Waving But Drowning drinks its whiskey and plays it, too. "We're a big fan of the sound of an empty Jack Daniel's bottle," says band member Pinky Weitzman. "We play anything that sounds cool and resonates well."

The band, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., earned its moniker "a junkyard cabaret" playing repurposed household items such as pots, pans, chains, saws and glass bottles, as well as a variety of stringed instruments, including viola, guitar, banjolele, mandolin, bass and Stroh violin (a horn violin).

"It's what indie rock might have sounded like in the 1890s," says Weitzman.

Dressed to the hilt in the era of their choosing, Weitzman, Mason Brown, John Frazier and Matthew Talmage put a theatrical spin on their shows with lots of witty, onstage banter and audience interaction. On the road, they often perform with fire-eaters, circus performers and belly and burlesque dancers, depending on who's available. Various media publications have compared the band's variety shows to a "Romanian gypsy camp" and a "rollicking, steampunk hoedown."

The motley troupe will perform without the extras at 8 p.m. Monday, May 28, at The Playwright, 258 A St., Ashland.

Their repertoire, according to Weitzman, is "all over the map," ranging from sea shanties and Appalachian reels to whiskey-drenched blues, gypsy punk and straight-up rock 'n' roll.

The band is currently adding to its cache of bandit-themed material for its third album, to be released this fall.

Some of these new songs will be premiered at the Ashland show, including "Just More" and "Highwayman."

"It's a circa-1699 bandit, who is lying in wait to stop carriages and is later hanged at Tyburn hill for his banditry," Weitzman explains. "It's a period piece with a modern twist."

Not Waving But Drowning was formed in 2007 and recorded its first album, "Any Old Iron," in 2008, followed by "Processional" in 2011.

The members, whose college degrees range from computer science and Middle Eastern history to ethnomusicology, all met through Weitzman.

"It was just a matter of us loving to hang out together," she says. "We figured if we were going to hang out and drink whiskey, we might as well play music, too."

The band's show at The Playwright is free. For more information or to view its self-produced music videos, see www.wavingdrowning.com.

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