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New York Cool - Music

Rob Mastrianni / Flamenco and Electric Sitar Guitarist
Mercury Lounge
August 25, 2008

Written and Photographed by Angelo Rivera

Opposite Photo: Rob Mastrianni and Pete List

I first caught Rob Mastrianni performing in the Grand Central shuttle pathway a couple of days prior to his Mercury Lounge performance. Realizing how soothing his intricate guitar play was, I decided to attend his show.

When I first arrived at the Lounge, I did not immediately think, “Ah, Morocco!” It was more of a dive; some East Village type woman was collecting eight dollars at the door and there were plastic beer cups strewn in front of the stage. Also not so promising was the fact that there were only twenty-five people in the club; perhaps this guy wasn’t going to be “all that.”

Rob Mastrianni
Rob Mastrianni


But then Rob Mastrianni appeared on stage with his two smoking guns and a guy introduced as the Human Beat Box (Pete List). Rob began the show by ever so delicately strumming and plucking a Catalan sound. A flash back to the eighties hit me as the background guttural be-bop vocal sounds of Pete List slowly began to take me to Morocco.

The band’s mix of guitar, sitar and be-bop background (known as psychedelic gypsy punk) entered a whimsical place in my head and took me back to the part of my life where everything was done inside a giant mushroom cloud of smoke.

Irina Akulenko
Irina Akulenko

As I was dreaming, basking with a hookah and sipping dark tea, from the corner of my eye I saw a vision of beauty. Irina Akulenko was dancing, sensually gyrating from head to toe. Her persuasive hand movements were part Middle Eastern and part urban flamenco.

I was taken for an unforgettable eight dollar ride.


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