Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sam Phillips at the Hotel Cafe

If you follow the music biz at all, you know that the entire industry is going through a rebirth, with everyone trying to figure out just were they belong and how they are going to get there. If you're a music publisher, the days of sitting back and waiting for the royalties to roll in are long gone. So what do you do? You become more aggressive. And that is what the owners of Notable Music (a music publishing company) are doing. This afternoon they booked the Hotel Cafe for lunch, bringing in pizza and an open bar and inviting industry types and the press to see just why Sam Phillips fans love Sam Phillips. Sam, of course, did her part, playing a 30 minute set of new and almost new music. Backed by Eric Gorfain on violin and guitar, Jay Bellerose on drum kit and Jennifer Condos on bass, Sam appeared to be in mid tour form. Later she told me how strange it was, they had rehearsed and rehearsed and now the show was over, and there was no tour bus to get on.

Although there were a lot of familiar faces, I'm sure there were some people there who really didn't know Sam's music. This is probably why she opened with "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us" (a song from the "Raising Sand" CD that was so popular a couple of years ago). She slipped in a couple of songs from her "Magic for Everybody" EP ("Lever Pulled Down" and "Magic For Everybody"), another from "Don't Do anything" ("Shake it Down") and "Was it all in My Head" a single from her Long Play project. It was at the end of "Shake it Down" that Sam pulled out what looked like a metal bread bowl and started hitting it to add to Jay's percussion. One too many slaps caused the bowl to fly off the stage and land at my feet. Sam apologized after the song, saying it was not intentional and was done with affection. I told her I knew that. She finished off the short set with a crowd favorite "Reflecting Light" and then "One Day Late" (which she dedicated jokingly to the Dodgers... who could use some help right now). What can I say about this band that I already haven't mentioned here before. Jay is one of the most interesting drummers alive; creating sounds like no one else. I have never been disappointed in any of the projects he has worked on in the past. I can't even imagine what Sam sounds like without Eric these days. His violin (and now guitar) have been a big part of Sam's sound for the last 5 or so years. Jen is the newest kid in the band, but she has been backing some pretty big names over the years. The four of them worked so smoothly together, you would have to think that they were, as I said, in the middle of a tour. This show makes me hungry for more live Sam Phillips. Hopefully, when the Long Play project is over, she will do some live gigs. But this will have to do for now.

After the show, I chatted with Jay (until Randy Lewis snuck in there). He's got some interesting projects coming up, including being on tour with Ray LaMontagne. There is no new news about Section Quartet shows. I think Sam is keeping Eric pretty busy. And nothing new to report about Sam. I believe an new EP is coming soon. What a wonderful afternoon. If felt like 2004 all over again.


DC Cardwell said...

Thanks for the review, Bruce!

mike said...

Well done Bruce. I hope to see her again in Ohio.

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen