Few bands have the power to make you horny and hungry.
The self-described two-member one-man band known as Fuzzy Baby — from a nickname for a dearly departed cat — may just be that band. The musically omnivorous duo features multi-instrumentalist Molly Berg and percussionist Giustino Riccio of Bio Ritmo fame, a Jackson Ward couple that found love making music and food together.
“We're both obsessed with food,” Riccio says. “We like to live the good life.”
Berg and Riccio have worked in local restaurants for years, currently Edo's Squid and Tastebuds American Bistro, respectively, and their stripped-down songs were initially inspired by culinary delights Berg made at home such as an “incredible hot-pepper cream cheese,” Riccio says.
Live, Fuzzy Baby has a vaudevillian feel, partly because both musicians sing and play a number of instruments. Musically, they blend folk ballads, Brazilian tropicalia — Tom ZAc is a big influence — traditional country and soul, while honing an onstage chemistry that takes its cues from borscht belt faves Gracie Allen and George Burns.
While singing, Riccio plays acoustic guitar and, with his feet, drums. This is his first real foray in front of the mic, too. “I'm so used to being behind the drums that I had to incorporate a kick drum and high-hat,” he says. “It's like my security blanket.”
That's nothing compared with Berg. A Delaware native, she's been playing wind instruments since the fourth grade and typically pulls out all the stops during a Fuzzy Baby gig: clarinet, saxophone, a tuba she bough at Diversity Thrift for $35, classical guitar, congas and a Philippine flute. She also plays a real crowd pleaser: half-filled wine glasses that resonate eerily like a Theremin or synthesizer. At a recent Millie's Restaurant performance, Berg even broke into a rapping segment during a cover of the Sons of the Pioneers' classic, “Cool Water.” She formerly rapped in the hip-hop group, Tiger Bomb, and played with local jazz group Hotel X, among others.
One of Fuzzy Baby's catchiest compositions so far, “Tuba Loves CuA-ca,” features Riccio on cuA-ca, a squeaky Brazilian friction drum that sounds like a monkey hooting to Berg's two-note tuba march, occasionally punctuated by a hand-clap-filled chorus, “Yay Yay Yay!” Someone should get the song right away to Woody Allen as it would nicely fit the fine tradition of music used in his best comedies.
The band is booking shows, possibly releasing a vinyl EP before working on a full-length album, and considering buying a minivan. “I'm also working on a song about Strega,” Berg says. Strega is an Italian herbal liqueur. S
Fuzzy Baby will perform with Cigarbox Planetarium and the Two Man Gentleman Band at Balliceaux, 203 N. Lombardy St., on Sunday, Oct. 25. Tickets $15 (includes a buffet). Doors open at 6 p.m. For information call 355-3008.