Monica Allison at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothAt 9:45pm Monica hit the stage with, including herself a seven piece band, and began to totally blow the roof off of the joint.. . .

Monica Allision at the Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 New York City, NY, February 10, 2011

Last year around this time I went to a CD release party for a project called "In The City" by the songwriters group from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Each of the artists in the group was given the assignment to write a song or two about living in New York City. The final product is still one of my favorite albums from last year. One tune that immediately jumped out at me was a song called "Small Town" by Monica Allison.

I have had the opportunity to see Monica perform a few times over the last year as either a solo performer or with a group and have never been disappointed.  When I heard that her full length album was being released with a debut gig at the Rockwood Music Hall to say that I was pumped up is a vast understatement. The Rockwood Music Hall has over the past few years become the place to play and be seen on New York's lower east side. Thursday evening rolled around and I made the drive into the city and found my usual parking spot without much of a problem and walked over to the Rockwood. I got there about twenty minutes early and the place was already wall to wall people. Luckily as the previous band was tearing down some folks left so I worked my way through the crowd and grabbed a chair at a table right next to the stage.

allison1At 9:45pm Monica hit the stage with, including herself a seven piece band, and began to totally blow the roof off of the joint. The band worked through a set of  eleven tunes including a killer cover of the tune "Scrubs".  The band included some of NYC's best players: Monica Allison on keyboard, guitar & vocals, Melanie Penn on vocals, Chris "Bones" Bonner on bass guitar, Rob Ritchie on guitar, Spencer Cohen on drums and a sting section comprised of Leah Hollingsworth and Elizabeth Davis-Richard. Everything about the set that night was marked by absolute perfection from the sound to the interaction with the standing room only crowd. Monica held the enraptured audience firmly in the palm of her hand and kept them there from the first tune until the last. The in between song banter flowed as easily as a conversation between old friends and indeed that was just what the evening was. A night of old friends hanging out listening to some good, no make that great tunes. The only down side of the night is that in the NYC club circuit each act is limited to a 45 minute time slot. I could have listened to this band all night long and still wanted more. There is an ever growing family of performers in the city that are dedicated to creating great music. Standing at the forefront of this family is a young woman named Monica Allison.

The song list for the night included:
"Keys To The Kingdom"
"Movin; On"
"Sad Love Songs"
"Small own"
Fly, Fly Away"
For more information on Monica check out her web site at

Chris MacIntosh aka Grandfather Rock