|Don't You Dare Cut Out the Middleman! An essay by Jimmy "The Cat" Fontaine in Leviathan, January 2006 You hear it all the time. Businesses promise to “cut out the middleman”; factory-direct vendors pledge great deals because there is “no middleman to go through.” The implication is that the middleman is a useless third party, creating nothing of its own, leading a parasitic existence between one party’s productions and another party’s needs.
Allow Middleman, the band, to respectfully disagree.
Middleman’s music is all about making connections. Take the second track on their recent demo. “People in Cars” might seem at first blush to be about the distance between the singer and his fellow human beings: “People in cars look happy/ they don’t care if they get there” intones Reed (one of Middleman’s three singer/songwriters) in the song’s unforgettable chorus. But a closer listen reveals that the song is not about distance at all, but about the connection we feel to those we cherish in spite of all physical distances. “I know the world’s a big place,” he sings, “but that won’t stop me” (from finding a lost love). No matter how far away people are in space or time, the connections of the heart are finally more powerful, and more real. But don’t think this group is all high-brow. Middleman knows how to rock, and they are only too happy to prove it in their compelling live show. Listen to drummer Carina Baldassarre’s inspired hammering, bassist Dennis Reed’s McCartney-esque stylings, handyman Tony Petrocelli's bewildering variety of contributions, and rhythm guitarist Eric Toye’s furious chugging, and it will be easy to see why Middleman have become such favorites on the Buffalo-Niagara scene. Nor is it hard to imagine that, given the right breaks, they are headed for much more.