Jerry Battista, of Dusty 45s notoriety, really likes naming the cover bands he plays in after sedentary furniture. At the Rimrock on Wednesdays and the Little Red Hen on Sundays, he plays in a three-piece called the Davanos, and on every other Monday at Mr. Villa, he plays in an acoustic outfit called the Lazy Boys, with Fred Holzman on drums and Paul Huston on bass. Gigging at Mr. Villa is night and day from the more raucous Rimrock sojourns. Mr. Villa is a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant a very good Mexican restaurantthat has sangria, tequila, and beer, but no bar to hunker down at. At the Rimrock, which is technically a steakhouse, food is something of an afterthought. At Mr. Villa, there are also small children. No one in their right mind would allow small children into the Rimrock's lounge, where the ever-animated, indefatigable Holzman is the undisputed ringleader, cajoling reluctant onlookers to join him in round after round of shots. At Mr. Villa, he nurses a salt-rimmed margarita and plays his drums softly, ceding center stage to Battista, a wonderful acoustic guitarist and vocalist who is as relaxed as Holzman is expressive. Holzman's voice is gravelly while Battista's is true, and a seamless segue between Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" and Crowded House's "Always Take the Weather With You" one recent Monday showed just how deftly the pair trades singing chores. Their Rimrock gigs prove Battista and Holzman can light up a room, while the Mr. Villa gigs exhibit sterling musicianship. All in all, it's well worth catching them in such an unexpected, intimate light.
Mondays, 7 p.m., 2009