January 31, 2012
Music Eve 1, Courses, ME Newsletter, Vol. 5, Issue 5
A half-filled, chilly ballroom might scare some people. I find it makes the night more intimate; makes it easier to meet the audience from their seat, and provides a darn good view.
All the way from near-Nashville, USA, George Harper’s happy train pulled out of the station right on time, picked up pace appropriately and kept the pickin’ speed steady. Lyrical stories - snapshots of life - rolled like wafting steam through the air, through shoes and boots and sneakers, right down to toes happy to be tapping along. The last Harper stop came along a little earlier than I’d have liked. The good news was the short set was a perfect little tease with the promise more would be coming over the course of the next few evenings. Of course, amid songs of humor and snap-shot stanzas of life, there was a message in there; sort of special one, especially for me, especially for now. “When you try to make sense of it all, it will bring you to your knees. Just thank GOD at the end of the day, of the day.”
Sweet George was followed by what couldn’t be a more polar-ly opposite, exactly-the-same-roots band. Introduced as “The most tattooed bluegrass band in the world,” G-Runs and Roses arrived on stage baring colorful sleeves and an upbeat, slightly nervous and high energy attitude. For a bit it seemed like they were playing to and feeding off each other before they tentatively noticed the audience. Not surprising when the members hail collectively from far away Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Very surprising when they launched special effects vocals without the use of special effect equipment - taking the heavy metal wall of sound to a vocal bluegrass level. G-Runs heated up a near frozen, over-air conditioned ballroom with more classics than you’re likely to find on country radio. From their righteous rendition of Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes” to the inspiringly transformed Simon and Garfunkle classic “Leaves that are Green” G-Runs honed their sound playing country songs on their travelling bus. Their five-dimensional rendition of Clint Black’s “Better Man” couldn’t have been played by better men.
By the time Tupelo took the stage, I’d already been sated, fed three courses: teaser Tupelo appetizer, traditional Harper fare, progressive G-Runs dessert. Tupelo again, twice in one evening, in venues as close as one Longford block, and as far apart house-wise as could be, made for a fabulous nightcap. Again, surpassing expectancy by giving their all to a not sold-out crowd, the new bluegrass/saxophone sounds blew off the stage. Like saxy-bluegrass sarcasm, James Cramer’s musical soul frazzled out through his hair, zapping the audience into participation. They turned the ballroom into an intimate pub and then the pub into a reception lounge, where suddenly you’re sitting on your home couch having a chat about the unimportance of politics and allegiances, and the truthfulness of proud love and collective voices. Tupelo completely won over a mainly older crowd of traditionalists with amazing ease, all the while encouraging a bluegrass-jitterbug mosh pit. At the end of this first evening’s entertainment, there was no one unsure of the wide range potential or the future of bluegrass left in the room.
Soup to nuts, from George Harper to G-Runs and Tupelo (twice), soaking in and soaking up a much needed medicinal music infusion, all have now been permanently added the soundtrack of my life. If I had to go home right now, I’d be satisfied with the journey, just to have been here for this one day and one night.
Yet, the night was still young….
Posted by jaselin at January 31, 2012 06:57 PM