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Music Review: Malpractice @ Temple Bar, January 3, 2008

At just after 9 p.m. last Thursday night, the sizable early evening crowd at the Temple Bar was a bit older and more casually dressed than one might expect for the Wilshire Boulevard hot spot.  Behind the club’s decks, DJ Anthony Valadez applied his hip-hop styled mixing skills to rock radio classics – the Beatles, mid-70s era David Bowie, Queen (with David Bowie).  It     wasn’t your typical night at the Temple Bar, but then, Malpractice isn’t your typical rock band.

In past lives, the five people comprising Malpractice were professional musicians.  Since then, all have found successful careers in fields that have nothing to do with guitar riffs and drum beats.  Singer Evann Lee is a dog trainer/psychologist. Guitarist Mark Tomorsky heads Tomorsky Bros. Construction, while fellow axe-wielder Hank Shaw is CEO of Santa Monica-based advertising agency The Phelps Group, and drummer Richie Shapiro is CFO of ACI Telecommunications.  And then there are Drs. David Baron, pianist and vocalist, and Rick Frieder, bassist, whose professions helped inspire the band’s name.  Baron is a Malibu-based family practitioner and Chief of Medical Staff at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.  Frieder is an OB-GYN professor at the same hospital, with private practices in Santa Monica and Malibu.  Clearly, for this band, playing around town has less to do with rock star dreams and more to do with the simple pursuit of having fun.

“We like playing old rock and roll because we’re old guys and they’re songs that are familiar to us and to people of our generation,” says Frieder.  The band’s live gigs, which include performances at festivals and private parties in addition to standard club dates, focus primarily on cover tunes, with an emphasis on bands like ZZ Top, the Doobie Brothers, and, naturally, healthy doses of the Beatles and the Stones.

The band, which initially formed 10 years ago, opened this engagement with a rendition of Del Shannon’s classic “Runaway.”  It was a bit of a rocky start as Lee had a tendency to over-sing the piece and her vocals wavered in terms of volume.  The band quickly recovered, though, and continued through the rest of the 45-minute performance with expert musicianship and stage presence.  Overall, Malpractice’s taste, at least in terms of this performance, leans towards smooth, piano-driven tracks. A rendition of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years,” which was almost a dead-ringer for the original, was the highlight of the night. Similarly, Malpractice’s cover of Paul McCartney’s hit “Maybe I’m Amazed,” paid careful tribute to the former Beatle, and its version of “Roll with It” captured Steve Winwood’s brand of blue-eyed soul.  Even the band’s sole original piece, “She Sees Me,” seemed inspired by the softly funky rock of the ’70s. For fans of rock and roll’s lighter side, Malpractice made for an enjoyable night on the town.

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