SMS Review

Take Me To The River: Start Making Sense, Reviewed, 5/23


Reprinted from


The Talking Heads were an innovative band that provided a unique blend of genres. Galvanized by lead singer Byrne’s originality and artistic approach to the stage, the band took exploratory avenues into edgy and addictive live shows as caught on Demme’s “Stop Making Sense” film. They possess a distinct and varied catalog of top hits from their early days playing CBGB’s to their tour in Rome in 1980 to the brilliant “Little Creatures” record later. The Talking Heads made such an impression on our collective psyche, they would be a very challenging band to emulate. The Talking Heads Tribute Band, Start Making Sense, does an exemplary job of sharing their experience.

There are two things that make the whole thing work. Firstly, the band is overflowing with professional musicianship of its players including Jon Braun (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Jon Fadem (Guitar), Steve Brunette (Percussion), Jesse Braun(Drums) and Devin Calderin (Keyboards). Secondly, front man Braun is the quintessential reincarnation of a young David Byrne and this affords the crowd an ability to temporarily have a willing suspension of disbelief and take in the experience as if it was the real thing. With Braun’s eyes popping, body jerking left to right, appropriate hair style, a vocal range emulating from high pitched whelps to screams to similar general vocal tone and appropriate signature inflections, stretched out neck ala an ostrich and the arm waving-guitar playing creates a carbon-copy of Byrne. Braun is a gifted performer as he maintains a very different demeanor when not impersonating the Talking Heads leader. Braun is like Bill Bixby turning into the Hulk. He includes the same mannerisms within songs as Byrne does, but on the cruise he was unable to run around the ship during “Life During Wartime” due to limited space and the possibility of falling overboard.

The weather was horrid before the start time of the cruise, with torrential downpours for most of the afternoon. However, Rocks Off has never cancelled a cruise in their 10 year history and the boat was packed with patrons. Those who decided to risk the chance of poor weather were rewarded a pleasant night on the seas complete with a glowing view of the State of Liberty up close, a surprise fireworks show out on the water and some boat tricks including four fast rotations of the vessel that left one dizzy, unstable and feeling surreal among their surroundings in a euphoric fashion.
The day that I interviewed Bernie Worrell, keyboard player for Talking Heads, where I was reminded that the band will never reunite, I was able to catch the next best thing. Start Making Sense has held the mantle as the premiere Talking Heads tribute band for some time and they continue to be the definitive Talking Heads experience. At a time where people are clamoring to hear the magic of the music (the band broke up in 1991) one is fortunate to be afforded such a professional and talented band.

By Chadbyrne Dickens
Photo by Weninger Studios


Set List: Thank You For Sending Me an Angel, Slippery People, And She Was, Flippy Floppy, Artists Only, Memories Can’t Wait, Book I Read, Psycho Killer, Not in Love, Born Under Punches, Cities, Nothing But Flowers

Uh Oh Love Comes, What A Day That Was, Naive Melody, Animals, Life During Wartime, Big Biz/I Zimbra, Clean Break, Once in a Lifetime, Burning Down The House, Girlfriend is Better, Take me to the River, Cross Eyed and Painless