Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pete Kilpatrick Band with Hutch Heelan

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Frontier, Brunswick, Maine

I’m always up for a Pete Kilpatrick Band show. Pete’s a local Midcoast Mainer—a guy you see out and about in town. You’d never know that he’s kind of famous—playing with his band at the Sundance Film Festival (among many others), having music featured on TV shows, and touring with major acts all over the country. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that PKB was invited to perform at President Obama’s recent visit to Maine. No big deal.

I took my dear friend and regular concert buddy Michelle to the show as a belated birthday treat. We settled into seats in the front row (it’s where I like to be whenever possible) and were introduced to former-Pete Kilpatrick Band member and show opener, Hutch Heelan. I liked Hutch immediately—he has a strong, clear voice and writes simple, straightforward songs. Hutch had showmanship—he bantered with the audience about his caffeine levels, and told us that being asked to open for PKB (which he was a longtime member of) “made his heart sing.” I thought Hutch’s music was interesting—the chords he played had an optimistic tone, even though some of the song lyrics were about making difficult choices and dealing with the consequences.

Hutch Heelan

He introduced his song “The Apology” by apologizing for heavy it is. A lady in the audience shouted out, “you’re apologizing for the apology?” It was cute. He switched to a fabulous old guitar that he joked (?) he’d pulled out of a dumpster on the ride to Topsham for the show to play “My Own Skin.” “My Own Skin” is one of my favorite songs on Hutch’s CD, Mercury Rising—along with two more pretty stripped-down songs on the album (I love acoustic music most, after all) “What Will Be” and Bright Like Fires.”

I thought it was really smart that Hutch gave away free copies of his CD and stickers. It’s a smart way to build a fan base. I chatted with him after his set and he’s super approachable and friendly. If you want to know more about Hutch and his CD Mercury Rising, check out Hutch’s interview with Charlie Gaylord on Greetings from Area Code 207.

The Pete Kilpatrick Band gathered after a quick break, ready to introduce us to their newest album, (of their six albums in eight years as a group) Heavy Fire. I think Pete has great stage presence—he always looks genuinely happy to be on stage, and he introduces every song by giving the title (at the very least) and then ending each song with a vaguely Elvis-like “thank you very much.” The band had released its newest CD in Portland the weekend before, and Pete started the show by saying as much and then lightheartedly telling us that their opening song “is not a song from that album.” They opened with “The World In a Fishtank,” and went right into one of my favorites—“Who Do We Think We Are.”

Pete Kilpatrick Band (minus Tyler)

I was happy to see that the majority of the guys in the band were wearing flannel. I try to promise Michelle there will be cute musicians wearing flannel whenever possible to entice her to join me for shows. Everyone sounded solid—Pete on guitar and vocals, Ed Dickhaut on drums, Tyler Stanley on keys (who makes the BEST faces when he plays), Pete Morse on guitar, and Matt Cosby on bass. The band has a good rapport—they tour A LOT together and seem at ease around one another. They played in New York City the night before and went on a “band field trip” to the Natural History Museum where they immediately got separated and of course didn’t have cell reception to fix the problem. These are the little stories that make a band fun to see and make it worth paying some money to hear their music played live.

PKB (minus Matt)--I was too close to catch them all at once

They played back-to-back songs from their new album—“Martha” and “Burning Star.” Pete said that Heavy Fire is a concept album about a guy from Brunswick, Maine who goes off to fight in the Civil War. I was happy to hear that background—I love a little context and I love that Pete and the band are so literate and that their music is influenced by literature and history.

Pete asked if the sound was okay, and told us a story about how they were playing at the Sundance Film Festival when Paul Simon walked by—they can only hope they sounded good. I can’t imagine how exciting that moment must have been. I don’t suppose you can just holler out to legends and see if they want to sit in for a song? Knowing me, I would ask.

They covered “Harvest Moon” (I actually just heard another band cover that two nights ago, too) and invited everyone to come up to the front and dance during “Working On Your Heart.” They finagled a great Beverly Hills Cop intro to that song, which was a hilarious beginning to an old PKB song I really like.

Matt on bass joked he couldn’t see Tyler through Pete and kept waving at him. Pete joked they could just text each other if the separation was too much. Tyler’s keys sounded great and were featured in “Two Armies,” which was definitely one of my favorite songs of the night.

They played one of my very favorite old PKB songs, “Yesterday Love,” that includes a mash up with “Lovesong” by The Cure. Two more songs from their great new album (check out a review from the Portland Press Herald here) followed—“American Dream,” which Pete said was inspired by a red glass heart sun catcher in his kitchen that drives their dog crazy, and “Drifting in Color,” which Pete said they’d never played in front of an audience before, and to throw stuff if it sounded like a bad Duran Duran song.

The guys opened for Barenaked Ladies the week before (are you sensing how busy they are??) and were bombarded on stage with thousands of marshmallows—surely a good sign from a BNL crowd. I’m always happy to hear upbeat “Coming Home,” which won a national fan-based-voting contest. Pete forgot the lyrics and a guy in the front helped him out. He also squeezed parts of “Up On Cripple Creek,” “Love In An Elevator,” and “Ramlin Man” into the song—it’s amazing what you can do with three and four-chord songs.

Pete wrapped up the night by jokingly letting us know they’d play two more songs and then do a three-hour Led Zeppelin set (don’t be disappointed when I tell you that they didn’t actually get the led out). They played “Heavy Fire”—about dealing with stuff you don’t want to and being better for it and finished the night with “Trespasser.” Pete told us that “Trespasser” was based on Maine author Paul Doiron’s book by the same name. He asked if any of us had read it. Nope. He told us there would be an assignment on the book due at their next show. I may not have my homework done by then, Pete, but I’ll definitely see you next time!




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Anna Pillsbury

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mad Dog Pub, Gardiner, Maine

**I’m back from a long hiatus! I had SUCH a great time in Eastern Europe with 13 wonderful seniors from Mt. Ararat. We went to Berlin, Prague, Krakow, and Budapest–and had a total blast. I’m back, and have been trying to catch up on sleep and blogging. More to come soon. Just in time for lots more upcoming shows!**

Maybe this is true for people who are not teachers, too, but I struggle with Fridays. I think I could fall asleep for the night even before Dr. Phil comes on. I made it home Friday after school and think I promptly fell asleep. I woke up just in time for a Designing Women marathon on the Preview Channel (you can judge me, but that show is awesome). I perused my Facebook news feed and saw that Anna Pillsbury was playing .25 miles away from my house at my favorite Gardiner pub, Mad Dog.

My friend Leonard (who also designed my What Bree Sees logo—thanks, Leonard!) had emailed me about seeing Anna at Lion’s Pride in Brunswick, and I’d missed her show at Slates in Hallowell. I decided to brush my teeth and head down even though I’d missed the first set. I got to Mad Dog during Anna’s break and got to chat with her—she is super nice and very tall. Turns out, her mom Susan is a regular at Mad Dog’s open mic night that I’ve gone to a number of times on Tuesday nights. Anna has moved home to Maine to pursue music full time, and I wanted to give her a little shout out.

Anna’s music isn’t for everyone because she sings simple, quirky songs about love and loss, but she is very sweet and creative and you should check her out. She is working on writing original material (using the many instruments she plays–including ukelele), but filled in her set with covers of KT Tunstall, Indigo Girls, and Jason Mraz (to name a few). I checked out her YouTube channel, and she has posted hilarious videos of both her own songs and covers of popular songs by Coldplay, Karmin, Train, and other well-known artists. Two of her YouTube videos have gotten over 20,000 hits! Impressive!

I was thoroughly entertained by her song “The Rose,” which is about the show The Bachelor (a former guilty pleasure of mine). It goes, “I saw you standing outside the limo door
/And I knew what my life was for/
I’ve seen your face someplace
/You’re the man of my dreams

/You gave me a hug
/Said you were excited to meet me
/I fell in love and knew that you were my destiny.”

Anna Pillsbury

I thought seeing Anna was entertaining. She bantered a lot with the small, but attentive crowd. She is very funny and shared a lot of stories about the inspirations for her songs. Some of her songs are kind of racy, but in a comical way. I particularly liked her introduction to one of her songs–she told us she’d written it about trying to date someone who said he was polyamorous. It didn’t go well in the end.

It seems like Anna’s best-known original song is “Kiss Me On A Chair,” certainly inspired by her 6’1” stature. It goes, “And I don’t care how awkward it’ll be
/That I’m 6’1″ and you’re maybe 5’3″

/You can kiss me on a chair
/You can kiss me in the stairwell
/I can get down on my knees
/You can kiss me from a tree.” Check Anna out on Facebook. I like that her music is creative, autobiographical, and diverse. She definitely puts on an entertaining and eccentric show.



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Jonny Corndawg, Shovels & Rope, and Robert Ellis

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Empire Dine and Dance, Portland

I first saw Jonny Corndawg perform at Belfast, Maine’s United Church of Christ during 2011’s Belfast Free Range Music Festival. I saw 10 shows in 10 hours that day, and had to make choices about which shows to attend. There was a lot of buzz that day about Jonny Corndawg, so I made sure to catch his set. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was surprised by Jonny’s psychedelic country music full of simple stories that made me laugh. His music caught me off guard, but I totally dug it. I saw him again in November in Portland opening for super fun bluegrass band, Trampled By Turtles. My friends Max, Sophie, and Mike joined me for that awesome, high energy show, and they were totally on board with seeing Jonny again when he came back to Portland at the end of March. It’s nice to have things you can depend on like a guaranteed great show—like taxes being due in April, my cats inevitably waking up and getting a surge of energy just as I’m trying to sleep, and my students getting a little rowdy at the end of the day on Fridays. I can’t imagine hearing about Jonny having a show in town and not going—and I can guarantee you’ll have a good time at one of his shows.

My friend Mac (who introduced me—hallelujah—to The Civil Wars well over a year before anyone else I knew had heard of them) posted a video of rocking country duo Shovels & Rope on Facebook a few months back, so when I heard they were opening the Jonny Corndawg show, I was really excited. Add to that Robert Ellis playing a short set, too, and I was pumped. He and Jonny will both be at the Newport Folk Festival this summer, and I am already looking forward to seeing them again.

Sophie made us an awesome dinner at the beautiful house in Deering she and Max were tending. We watched Kentucky beat Louisville in the NCAA final four (my bracket was toast early in the process) and started watching the Kansas/Ohio State game and had to  rush out of the house when we realized we were going to be late for Robert Ellis. We all expected, based on our last Jonny Corndawg show experience, that Empire Dine and Dance was going to be packed. We were very surprised when we arrived a little late because there was so much space at the front by the stage. I think we sadly missed a few Robert Ellis songs, but I’ll see him again this summer, so I can live with that even though I have a firm do-not-miss-the-opening-act/s policy. Robert sounded beautiful on acoustic. I loved his cowboy boots and buckle. His voice has a beautiful tone. He was very nice to the crowd and thanked us for watching his set. I was a little bummed for him because there weren’t as many people there as I would have liked—Robert Ellis is definitely worth the notice. His second album, Photographs, was named one of the top albums of 2011 by American Songwriter Magazine. Check out his performances at American Songwriters’ studio. Robert’s folk/country sound is totally up my alley, and I particularly loved one of his songs about growing up in the Bible Belt that includes the telling line “nobody talks too loud in my hometown/Nobody stands too tall/for fear of being knocked down.” As he cleaned up his equipment, I was able to lean in to tell him how excited I am to see him at the Newport Folk Festival this summer. He flashed a smile and said a genuine “thank you”—very sweet. I hope you’ll check out his music.

Robert Ellis

I could hear Cary Ann from Shovels & Rope before they took the stage. People had started to crowd the stage in anticipation of their set—clearly they are a draw—and Jonny was behind me near the merch table introducing her to his parents who’d come to the show (yes, insert the “aw” here—it was a late show, too, so good for them!). Her southern accent is thick and she was so excited to meet Jonny’s parents. You can’t miss her fiery red hair and strong personality. I was so ready for their set to start.

I think it’s the social studies teacher in me, but I really like a little context. Straight from their website, “Shovels and Rope is a Charleston, SC band consisting of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. Formed in 2010, they sing harmony driven folk, rock and country songs using two old guitars, a kick drum, a snare, a few tambourines, harmonicas, and and maybe a little keyboard sometimes. They tour constantly as a two piece, making as much noise as they can.” They met in “Athens, GA 2003 on tour with Jump Little Children. Years later we put together a band to make some money in the bars in Charleston. We went on the road in late 2010 and have been traveling since then.” [I saw Jump, Little Children open for Guster in 2001 and LOVED them!]

Shovels & Rope

These two make A LOT of beautiful noise. There is so much power in their presentation. I think anyone who sees them live will be instantly hooked by their charisma. I’m really looking forward to their new album in late July. Here’s a link to the teaser trailer for The Ballad of Shovels and Rope—a film about the making of the new album. I think it gives you a taste of how down to earth and hardworking these two are. The crowd was really into Shovels & Rope and happily bounced along to the rockin’ music. I especially liked “Boxcar,” Gasoline,” and “Bad Luck.” Cary Ann and Michael have a lot of chemistry and played off of each other—they have a clear connection and have a blast on stage. If you don’t know Shovels & Rope, please check them out. If you can see them live, do.

A lot of love here.

Cary Ann and Michael quickly packed up their equipment and Jonny Corndawg and his band took the stage. Robert Ellis joined them on guitar, too, and I was glad to see more of him. I don’t have the right words to describe Jonny’s music. It’s country for sure, and I get the impression that he writes a lot of his songs based on moments from his everyday life. “Dog on a Chain” is an example of what I mean. I bet he literally saw a dog on a chain and wrote the song that goes “I’m just a dog on a chain/and burden’s my name/and no on pays attention/to a dirty old dog/my owner is a man/who works way too hard/but I need attention and exercise.”

I was really impressed when Jonny introduced Robert Ellis to the crowd again. He said he didn’t think the crowd paid enough attention during his set (I agree). So he told us to Wikipedia him to see how big a deal he is. He introduced the members of his band and told us to get out our iPhones and look them up because they are all well-known musicians. I loved the loyalty that moment showed.

Jonny and Robert Ellis

The crowd was happy to bounce along to “Life of a Bear” from Jonny’s last album, Down on the Bikini Line. I love his random songs about random things. “Life of a Bear” goes “Big bear on the forest park/looking for a tourist he can tear apart/and bring back home to his family and friends/little bitty brown bear walking through the forest/finding little berries on berry trees and eating them/this is the life of a bear.” Jonny came to the very front of the stage (so just inches from me) and knelt down and serenaded us up close. It was magical.

Cary Ann came out for a song and they sounded great together. It must be quite interesting for her to be the only woman on the road with all of those guys! She seems like she can handle it, though. “Shut Up” sounded GREAT and everyone got a little time to solo on their instruments—keys, drums, fiddle, bass, and both guitars.

Cary Ann and some of the boys

It’s time for another concert etiquette moment. There was a girl rocking out to Shovels & Rope. She left after they packed up. She came back during Jonny Corndawg’s set. Her male friend wanted to join her up front. He decided it would be fun to be creepy and push his way to the front and grind with women in the crowd. He did this to me. In the front row. A few feet from Jonny Corndawg. I pushed him off of me (he did have great pecs, so I guess he had something going for him there) and told him “Go.Away.Now.” All of the people around me were impressed because he listened. I’m so glad I’ve had all of these years to practice my “teacher look” and the accompanying “teacher voice” to use in these instances. Oh, so a note to people who push their way to the front or inappropriately touch strangers—don’t do that. The best part is that the fiddle player saw the whole thing go down and gave me a knowing nod when I got rid of the guy. I did not make this moment up. I have witnesses.

Some of my favorite things about the band that night:  four of six of the guys had beautiful facial hair, basically everyone had cowboy boots on with the notable exception of Jonny who had on his trusty New Balance sneakers, and they had a clear chemistry and a great time up on stage. Jonny is working on his next album, Dad Country, with the help of backers through Kickstarter. Dawes (who will also be at The Newport Folk Festival again this year) is the backing band on the album. Incidentally, Jonny’s wearing the same green sweater in the Kickstarter photo that I’ve seen him wear the last two times I’ve seen him perform (even Max noticed that and he’s a guy).

Jonny did “Trash Day”—definitely one of my favorites and a song that he told us at the last show is for anyone who’s ever been in a relationship. It was one of the last songs of the night and he literally climbed the rafters and scooted across the ceiling above the stage. There’s some stage presence for you! I think he finished up with “Ain’t It Your Birthday.” I loved seeing Jonny get off stage to thunderous applause and get a big hug from his dad at the edge of the stage. I was impressed that his folks were awake after midnight, for that matter.

Jonny was a little under the weather and losing his voice. He came back on stage for two quick a cappella songs, including one by Jimmy Cousins. It was bittersweet because I always hate to see Jonny leave the stage. He is such fun to see live. Definitely check him out next time he’s in town. I’ll be up front and hopefully the guy with the great pecs will be nowhere in sight. I feel like that experience would make a good Jonny Corndawg song, actually.



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Sarah Jarosz with Lera Lynn

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH

It’s finally here—a concise show recap. This will not be a 2,000+ word blog post. (Okay, it is, but you can stop reading after this paragraph). Do you know about Sarah Jarosz? How about Lera Lynn? No? Now you do. You’re welcome. Click on the links, listen to their music, and see them live. They are both fantastic. I didn’t realize how let down I’d been after so many recent big name shows until this magical night unfolded. I had a giant smile on my face the whole time, well—except when the show ended. Then I was sad it was over. It was by far the best show I’ve seen in 2012—so, the best of 12 so far. I keep trying not to see a show a week like last year, but I’m doing exactly that. And I’ve skipped more than half of the shows that have come across my radar. I am so glad that I didn’t miss this one, though. It was more than worth the 5+ hour roundtrip drive.

I picked up Erin after school on Monday—I have known her since she was a fifth grader and I was her camp counselor. We went to Greece on a school trip together, I ended up being her teacher her senior year of high school for a semester, and now we’re still close even though she goes to Colby Schmolby. She was home on break, so the timing was perfect. We decided to have dinner at our favorite place in Portsmouth, The Friendly Toast. I had a pineapple banana smoothie that hit the spot since I was still feeling pretty crappy with whatever virus I couldn’t kick over the weekend.

We made it to Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry just before doors opened, and there was already a line. We found two seats on the aisle in the second row, although there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Tupelo has a little bit of an old barn feel, though modernized. It’s really a lovely venue and I’m always happy to see a show there.

Lera Lynn and guitarist Ben Lewis took the stage. Before they opened their mouths, I was a bit taken aback by just how lovely they were to look at. Lera has full lips and long brown hair, and wore a simple sundress and boots with fringe. Ben looked sharp in his button up shirt and cowboy boots. Then they played, which was the real treat. Lera has a clear, textured voice. They harmonized well and Ben’s guitar parts complimented Lera’s playing really well.

Lera Lynn and Ben Lewis

Lera said she was from Athens, Georgia. I would call her music decidedly country. She told us that she’d filmed a music video for “Bobby, Baby” where she got to attack someone with a shovel—clearly out of character for this sweet southern gal. Ben interjected that Lera had won first place in the country division of the 2011 Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at MerleFest in North Carolina. She humbly accepted the praise. I really like the song, too. “Bobby, Baby” is powerful. The percussion had me swaying, but the lyrics are serious—“There’s a bump on the hill/Where your body lies/There’s a stone in the ground/Reads “This man did try”/If you look to the east/You see your estate/Weathered and hollowed out by your mistakes.” Lera’s vocal wailing—the “ahs” towards the end of the song—are haunting and just perfect. [Lera has become one of the most popular artists I’ve written about. People are often directed here who are in search of information about her. Check out her set from June 2012 on Mountain Stage.]

This was day three of their seven-day tour around New England with Sarah Jarosz. They are well suited to play on the same stage. Lera is also playing with Joan Osborne and Band of Heathens. There was a cute moment during one of the songs where one of the strings on Ben’s guitar was clearly out of tune—he made an adorable “oops” face and fixed it swiftly, without missing a beat. He picked up a mandolin, and they closed their set (which was over all too soon) with an impressive cover of TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me.” You could have heard a pin drop. They were fabulous and commanded our attention and we were also a very attentive audience. No wonder artists want to play at Tupelo and keep coming back.

Erin and I gave each other a knowing glance as Lera and Ben finished their set and immediately got up to go buy whatever they had to sell. We both picked up her 2011 debut solo album Have You Met Lera Lynn?We got to chat briefly with Lera, who was very sweet, and she told us where they were playing next on tour. They’d never been that far north before. She said they were playing in Cambridge, and I said, “oh, at Club Passim?” She asked me to say it again. She’d be saying it really wrong. It was adorable and I was glad to help a southern girl out!

I’ve listened to Lera’s album so many times since being introduced to her that night. I like “Whiskey” with it’s simple country twang—“I don’t know if I’m coming or going/I just keep the whiskey flowing.” Only one song on the album is over three and a half minutes long—so they are short, simple, and I bet also autobiographical. “Gasoline” carries a clever insult—“You’re so good with gasoline/I’ve never seen a lie burn so clean/Now that I’ve gone up in flames/You’ve found a new friend.” The album is great from beginning to end and I highly recommend checking it out.

I like to think that I “discover” musicians before they get too famous, and I think I’m just ahead of the curve with Lera Lynn. She and Ben recorded a great cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” for American Songwriter (so she is clearly on track to be famous, which she deserves to be) and if you like learning about musicians like I do, check out her interview with American Songwriter, too. I so hope she’ll come back to New England again soon. I also wish Johnny Cash were alive so she could open a show for him. They would have been a perfect fit.

I LOVE NPR Music, and many of the musicians I grow to love I’m introduced to there. I first learned about Sarah Jarosz on May 1, 2011 when NPR Music’s “First Listen” featured Jarosz’s sophomore album Follow Me Down. I listened and was moved—I became an instant fan. I did some research about Sarah and was shocked to find out that her 2009 debut album, Song Up In Her Head, came out when she was in her senior year of high school, and she wrote all but two of the songs herself. It honestly made me wonder what I’ve accomplished at almost 32, and made me really regret my decision to quit violin in the third grade. A June 14, 2009 interview on NPR Music titled A Bluegrass Debutante, A High School Graduate” summed the awe I have for Sarah up quite well—“In the past three weeks, Sarah Jarosz has hit some big milestones. She turned 18. She graduated from high school. And her debut album, Song Up In Her Head, got reviewed in Rolling Stone, where she was dubbed ‘a contemporary-bluegrass prodigy.’” More than that, Sarah was accepted to New England Conservatory in Boston, was invited to perform at Bonnaroo and on Austin City Limits, and earned a Grammy nomination at about the same time. Just wow.

Song Up In Her Head is fantastic. I particularly like “Tell Me True” (especially the line “Do you hear my name in the chorus of your song?”) and “I Can’t Love You Now.” Sarah also covers The Decemberists murder ballad “Shankill Butchers” and Tom Waits’ “Come On Up To The House” on the album. Not only does she have a gorgeous voice, but Sarah also plays many instruments flawlessly. I had to do a Google search to figure out what two of the instruments are called, actually. She plays mandolin and guitar (I figured those out all by myself), but also octave mandolin and clawhammer banjo. They give her music a classic, old-time feel.

In May of 2011, Sarah released her sophomore album, Follow Me Down, which coincided with the end of her sophomore year of college. I think it says a lot about Sarah’s talent that musicians like Bela Fleck, Punch Brothers, and Shawn Colvin all performed on the album. She covered two diverse songs, too—Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells” and Radiohead’s “The Tourist.” Something I thought was precious from the biography portion of Sarah’s website is that following the release of Follow Me Down was “a whirlwind tour packed into summer break. Since neither Sarah nor her musicians, Nathaniel Smith (cello) and Alex Hargreaves (violin) were old enough to rent a car, it became the tour of planes, trains and automobiles driven by whoever could be pressed into service.” The idea that such talented, accomplished musicians were able to create award-winning music but weren’t old enough to rent a car for their tour is laughable.

Oops. I’ve done that thing I sometimes do when I’m so enthusiastic about an artist that I end up writing a mini-biography and forget to talk about the show. But really, isn’t Sarah Jarosz cool? I think knowing about her background makes her that much more impressive. Back to the show, though.

Nathaniel Smith, Sarah Jarosz, and Alex Hargreaves

Sarah, Alex Hargreaves, and Nathaniel Smith took the stage. I was immediately struck by their youth. They opened with one of my favorites, “Tell Me True,” then did “Left Home,” which really showcases their playing abilities. I’ve been writing a lot lately about how little artists I’ve seen lately have been engaging with the audience, but Sarah talked to us and was very sweet. She was grateful that we’d all gathered in rural New Hampshire for the show. She gets extra points because one of the first things she talked about was that someone had Tweeted to her that they were driving 5 hours roundtrip to see her that night. It was me—and I was pumped to get a shout out. I think it was closer to 6 hours, actually, and well worth it.

They played “Run Away”—which has the great line “I buried my heart in a willow tree/You came along/Gave it back to me.” You should check out the video of “Run Away” featuring Sarah with special guests Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas. They did  “Come Around”next, which has such great instrumental interplay.

Sarah chatted more with the shockingly not quite sold out crowd. I suspect the days of not selling out a show will soon be a thing of the past—even in relatively rural New Hampshire on a Monday night. She introduced us to the band. She is originally from Wimberley, Texas (just outside of Austin), is a student in Boston at NEC, and this was their “Spring Break” tour. Violinist Alex Hargreaves is from Corvallis, Oregon and is a student at Berklee in Boston. Cellist Nathaniel Smith of Brandon, Mississippi, has toured with Natalie MacMaster. I doubt if any of them is even 21 years old. Sarah took the time to promote both of her trio-mates’ solo albums, which shows a lot of class.

Sarah introduced “Gypsy” and told us that she’d written it about a woman she’d seen on the subway in New York City. They’d played it at Joe’s Pub in The Village in New York City a few days before and during this particular song the subway appropriately rattled the ground as it traveled beneath the venue. I loved their covers of Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells” and Joanna Newsom’s “The Book of Right-On.” One of the things I noticed in between songs is that no one needed to use a tuner. It must be nice to have such a good ear!

Something I haven’t tried yet because I really prefer to see music live is Concert Window. It’s a website connected to some of the venues I like (Club Passim, One Longfellow Square, Tupelo, etc) where you can pay a few dollars and live stream concerts going on each night. Sarah’s concert was on Concert Window that night. She said her parents were watching and dedicated a song to them. I thought that was very sweet.

Sarah wrapped up her set with her adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s final poem “Annabelle Lee” and the title track from her debut album, “Song Up In Her Head,” where Alex switched to mandolin (I am so jealous of these multi-instrumentalists!) which sounded beautiful.

We cheered for an encore (I’ve started to wonder where the tradition of encores came from—stay tuned for more information), and the trio came back and played Tom Waits’ “Come On Up To The House” which involved some audience participation on the chorus. Sarah even had us sing one of the choruses without her help, and we sounded okay. It was such a nice way to end such an intimate show, and gave me some needed energy for my three hour drive home. I SO hope to see Sarah and Lera again in New England soon. I would love to have them come up to Maine, too. There’s definitely a lot of bluegrass/country/Americana music followers who’d love to see you both up here!



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