July 17, 2019

Distant Cousins Tame the Dragon at The Mint

Distant Cousin's latest album

What was the vibe like while watching The Beatles play in Hamburg, August 1960? Or seeing them at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in February 1961? Go and hear Distant Cousins on their current USA tour or frequent L.A. gigs and you’ll find out.

The Los Angeles Jewish community is blessed with many supremely talented musicians. The ones to watch right now are Duvid Swirsky, Dov Rosenblatt and Ami Kozak, whose group Distant Cousins are trailblazing with a heat that only gets hotter.

Fans of Jewish music may view DC as a kind of mini-supergroup, recognizing Swirsky from his years of success in the iconic Moshav Band, and Rosenblatt as the lead singer of Blue Fringe and one half of the The Wellspring.

Both have their musical chops well developed. Swirsky’s dextrous guitar solos have been heard on Moshav’s multiple international tours and albums. Rosenblatt’s blend of folk and pop can be heard on his previous band albums and his scoring on Netflix’s “Imposters” TV show, written with Wellspring partner Talia Osteen. Distant Cousins’ song “Are You Ready” was featured on the trailer for “How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World,” and you are going to be hearing a lot more of them, and their songs have recently been enjoying regular radio plays on L.A.’s KROQ 106.7.

In the case of these Distant-Cousins-made-closer, the sum of the whole is even greater than the already-great parts. The third band member, Ami Kozak, kicks things up a notch and his bandmates respond with a musical nuclear fusion. Coming from a world of more commercial music production, Kozak works wonders with the looping machine and delighted the audience with a brief “The Way You Make Me Feel” Michael Jackson tribute that was subtly thrown in to one of the band’s songs. The audience clearly felt very good.

The Feb. 14 concert at The Mint was the perfect Valentine’s Day gig. It made for a lovely date night, and the electric ambience made anyone without a date forget their single status.

The band made a bold move with a cold open, starting with an a cappella version of “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” It was theatrical, understated, powerful and subtly symphonic.

The entire room became quiet like a religious gathering. It was like Kol Nidre in terms of the hush that fell on the room, albeit like Kol Nidre except for the beer, food and smell of marijuana. That said, it depends on which shul you usually go to.

The 10-song set featured some of their older and newer songs, with various audience members singing along to various lyrics, revealing the growing fan base. Three especially good-looking female groupies cheered on the folk/pop trio and waited for them after the show. The band clearly had their bases covered with the blonde, brunette and redhead, although each woman is married to a band member and mother to their children, so perhaps technically they have long-since graduated from “groupie” to “wife.” What lucky fellas.

Distant Cousins have a new album, “Next of Kin,” available everywhere, and they are about to embark on a brief East coast tour.

If you haven’t already, start following Distant Cousins. Their star is on the rise and you’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the not-too-distant future.