This has been a busy live music week for us. It started last Tuesday with Sam Phillips at Spaceland (doing a benefit for a private school in L.A.). Sunday night was Richard Thompson and Eliza Gilikyson (along with Kerry Getz) at The Coach House. And the following Tuesday was Patty Griffin at the Wiltern.
Okay, I've written these Sam Phillips reviews a dozen times before, so I'll keep it short. Sam was is great form, singing 10 songs accompanied by Eric from The Section Quartet on violins. David Palmer (who also performed that night) played piano on a couple of the tunes. The most amazing thing about the evening was how attentive the crowd was. You could hear a pin drop in when Sam wasn't singing. In fact, looking over at the bar half way through the show, I was surprised to see it completely empty. She had the crowd wrapped completely around her finger and seemed to enjoy it; joking with the audience several times during the short performance. So... here is the set list (new songs may not have accurate titles):
Sister Rossetta (new)
I Dreamed I Stopped Dreaming
The Fan Dance
When You're Down
Gilmore Girls instrumental
Looking for a Signal (new)
One Day Late
Long Ago and Far Away (a cappella)
In Sam news (I'm sure that is what you're waiting for)... The music was in the can and now it is out again. Sam is working on more new songs and a new direction. By the time Nonesuch gets their act together she may have enough material for 2 CDs. Meanwhile, a 2007 release date is up in the air.
Richard Thompson, Eliza Gilkyson and Kerry Getz
Sunday night was spent at our favorite O.C. concert spot, The Coach House. I love it because a) You can sit, b) if you buy the so-so dinner you can sit close, c) The staff is generally friendly, d) It is small enough to enjoy a great atmosphere, e) The bar is just far enough in the back to not be too loud during the show f) Did I mention you get to sit?
I've seen Kerry Getz's name in local mailings and ads for years but have never seen her perform before. She was very entertaining, wrote some good tunes and was very funny. I don't think she did this on purpose, but during her show she was joking around and said the old line about when she was young she walked to school every day in the snow... uphill both ways. It was a line that Richard Jeni turned into a very funny routine many years ago ("we were so poor we couldn't afford feet"). During one of her songs, someone in the bar was so loud we could all hear the name Nicole. In mid song she immediately changed the name of the girl in the song to Nicole. Great entertainment chops. I look forward to listening to her CD.
I was really excited about seeing Eliza Gilkyson for the the first time. I almost went down to San Diego to see her as the main attraction. I wish I did because the 30 - 40 minute show was just not enough of this little known (at least outside of Texas) talent. With her dry whit, political strength and beautiful voice she performed a handful of great songs that led us to the CD stand once again to make sure we had everything she had to sell. So... I have to relate this story she told... Introducing a song about lost love, she told us how she always fell in love with really good guitar players (to the point of actually marrying them!). Finally a shrink said to her, "You know, we often are attracted to people who have qualities we lack. Maybe you should get better at playing your guitar". What a great line.
And of course, great guitar playing is what came next. Richard Thompson is one of the best guitar players in music. Watching him in a full band is pretty awesome. But seeing him with just his acoustic guitar goes beyond words. Add to that a song book that most artists would be jealous of and you have a truly inspirational evening. Richard stuck mostly to the last few CDs, but he did pull out some oldies, including a Sandy Denny song from his Fairport Convention Days. FC, by the way, is celebrating their 40th year together. Damn we're getting old. Asking us to join in on a couple of songs, he did not hold back his disappointment in our abilities. But that is part of his great dry sense of humor. This led to one of the funniest moments in the show; his ode to smart women. The song was made up of all these great couplets of lines describing how/why he likes smart women. And it kept going on and on. It would get to the apparent end and he'd say, "But wait, there's more". It was just a fun fun song. I've always seen this strong sense of insecurity in his music. Songs like "Crawl Back" seem to hint at a passive aggressive nature. The nervous way he chats with the audience seems to add to that. It is such a wonderful honest trait and makes for great songwriting. A well rounded, human artist. A great show.
Family night at the Wiltern. With my daughter and fiance in tow, we met up with Larry and his daughter and later met a mother who had brought her grown daughter. I love this multi-generation thing. :-)
It has been way too long since Patty did a show in L.A. (not counting the Hotel Cafe show last month). And the fans made sure she understood; giving huge and extended ovations several times. Over the last 10 years Patty has truly grown up on stage. 10 years ago, Patty was the shy singer standing on one leg most of the night with the great voice and perfect songwriting. Her last tour showed us that she knew how to shake her booty a bit (a good thing she doesn't do that 1 leg thing much anymore, otherwise she might fall over). Tuesday night she sang with the confidence of a... professional singer. Leaning against the stage, just a few feet from her 3-4 inch heals (okay, for those who need to know: simple black dress with a modest plunging neckline, black belt with a bow on the back and green patterned stalkings with what appeared to be pink shoes, with a lot of gray stripes or something like that) you could see the singer in her coming out. There was so much confidence. It was... it was... heaven. Like the rest of the tour so far, Patty pretty much stuck to the last 2 CDs with just a couple of songs from her past and a Sam and Dave cover (actually I don't think they wrote it). Patty sings for herself. It is great when an artist wants to make a statement and doesn't worry about what the fans want. But I can only imagine how intense a show it would be if she where to go back and play a bunch of songs from Living with Ghosts and Flaming Red. She would blow the doors off of any room. The fans went nuts when she went back to the first CD to perform Sweet Lorraine. Her hour and a half (if that) show was way too short. But I'll take an hour and half of Patty over most others (and you probably know who the exceptions are).