For those that were in attendance, you know the emotion and vibe present in the room on this night. For those of you who weren't able to attend, I truly hope that you are able to experience something this remarkable and heartwarming in your lifetime. 14 acts got together from near and far to pay tribute and raise funds for a friend, a peer, an admired artist, and most importantly a wonderful person Monday evening at Club Passim...these are some brief thoughts I had running through my mind as I sat in awe of the love in the room throughout the night.
The first thing that truly amazed me was that the show was slated to start at 8...the room was bursting at the seams at 7 and kept on growing throughout the night.
Ian Fitzgerald and Courtney Gallager - "Fits of Reason"
First to hit the stage was the ringleader, organizer and songwriter who jumped on the "first slot" grenade for all of us, Mr. Ian Fitzgerald joined by Courtney Gallagher. If you have read anything in the past year on this blog you know how I feel about these two. I can say with an honest heart that Ian is on the top of two of my lists, the best songwriters I have ever heard and the most humble, wonderful people that I have had the pleasure of knowing. The two effortlessly melded their voices together in harmony to play a heartwretching version of the band's song, Fits of Reason.
Vudu Sister "Severed Soul"
Vudu Sister has just the right amount of spooky and beauty mixed together to make their version of Severed Soul pay perfect tribute to the band and maintain their own distinct sound. Driven by beautiful vocal harmonies, thumping bass and then culminating with all the parts (violin, slide, bass, guitar, and voice) coming together to create a jubilation of sound.
Allysen Callery "Wayward Daughter"
Allysen has a voice and picking style like no other ladies I have ever come across. Its haunting, its delicate, its just really something. Her performance of her brown bird cover was no different. Unique and carefully picked out to the crowd who was eager to listen. A wonderful fit for this show!
Brian Carroll "Danger and Dread"
Rather than go ahead and say "I played good...or ok, or mediocre", I thought I would put a perspective on what it was like to play for this audience. Stepping up onto the stage, my palms were sweaty, my through was starting to lump up, I was following three amazing acts already and paying homage to a band I can only dream of reaching the same level of songwriting prowess as, but the second I looked out on the room and heard a signature Dan Blakeslee "whoooooooooooop!", the love and warmth and inviting nature of the audience and the other musicians and fans in it really sunk in. Passim is noted for its audiences always listening, but the group in the room tonight was really up there with me while I was playing my song. After each and every act a roar of applause erupted from the crowd. I would argue that I am fairly young in my songwriting/performing career, only doing this in what I consider a serious fashion for 6 or 7 years, but I highly doubt the emotion and comfort that I felt from this show will ever truly be rivaled. I'll be living on this high for a long time to come.
Eric Lichter and friends "Bow for Blade"
We needed a little rocking bluesy action to combat the somber sounds of a lot of the songs and as James Maple said "we got Licht!" with it when Eric and his army hit the stage. Thumping bass (and bass drum) leading the track, with some excellent driven guitar lines, and excellent vocals all around. This was a little bit of electricity that the crowd was looking for. The chorus of vocals sang out like a choir in the church of rock. And then Eric ripped out a really killer guitar solo...and wasn't at all flustered when a few words missed his mouth, recovering like a pro and getting a, endearing laugh from the crowd. Man, a very incredible performance from these gents together.
James Maple "Bilgewater"
Wait, these dudes look familiar...same line up, different leader as Lichter's band. I tell you something, James Maple has that something in his voice that is equal parts honey-stung soul and gritty-blues. Its just really wonderful. Their take on this is soulful, full tune was really great. I think the only harmonica I saw all night. Excellent playing and vibe all across the board and Maple really owned the stage.
Patrick Coman "Ebb and Flow"
Not too many folks delivered stories of their brown bird introduction, but Coman had a few comments that had the crowd chuckling and hooked them right into his intro. Someones been working on their finger picking. Coman delivers a raw version of "Ebb and Flow" with a steady bass rhythm and finely picked high notes. A nice little solo and building of tension really adds to the performance.
Jonah Tolchin "Thunder and Lightning"
As if having one of the most authentic and unique voices I have ever heard isn't enough, Jonah is an insanely talented guitar player. His deep resonant voice has a natural break that just really draw you in and the rolling and cascading travel through this song was really exciting to watch pan out. I only met Jonah and was introduced to his music fairly recently, but I am sure he is going down as one of my favorite performers and songwriters for life.
Haunt the House "Chairkickers"
Usually I have a lot to say and write about stuff, but I find that the less I am able to come up with the more moving the performance actually was. Which is why I will sum up Haunt the House's performance as: so f*cking beautiful, I have nothing else I could possibly say to better describe it. Wow.
Jenee Halstead "Devil Dancing"
Man, I said this before and I will say it again, whatever "it" is Jenee has got it. She has that type of country tinged voice that so many people try to capture but she just owns. She also graced the Passim stage with her new tele adding a really cool texture to her song of choice. Audrey Ryan also sat in during the tune and the two really played off each other in a subtle, but strong way.
Chadley Kolb "Wrong Black Mare"
Talk about taking a song and making it your own and just owning that. Chadley has a knack for that "dirty, delta, bluesy" goodness that makes you crave grits and fried alligator. His picking and playing was right on point adding that soulful goodness and his voice is always a treat to hear. He really just got up on that stage and sucked the air our of the room leaving folks speechless. Really amazing performance.
Audrey Ryan "By the Reins"
Audrey kicked off her song by telling a really wonderful story of why she chose the song she did and her relationship with Dave and MorganEve. Being more fan than friend of the group myself, it was really nice to hear all the wonderful things she had to say about her history with Dave. She also had Jenee's tele in tow and unleashed a powerful rendition of the band's song "By The Reins".
Dan Blakeslee "Amelia Earhart"
I think Dan is the best human on the planet. And everytime I hear his voice sing out I am always in awe. His humor throughout his performance was evident and he was another who shared a wonderful story of his relationship with the band. Dan's picking and hovering vocal really rang out through his performance and the addition of Audrey Ryan on accordion was certainly a welcome one. HE even paused after his song to capture the crowd in a photo...and then another photo...and then a panoramic photo to send to Dave and MorganEve. To which the crowd happily obliged.
The Low Anthem "Black Rivers"
True Beauty. That is what I feel after every time I listen to the Low Anthem and this was no different. A perfect ending to the evening, the 3-piece took the stage and added their signature "wait, where did that incredible atmospheric sound come from/what is that instrument they are playing" dynamic to this night. The band is one of the most creative that I have come across and it was such a pleasure to hear their gorgeous take on this song. Just wonderful.