My friend Kim and I trekked out to University of Hartford to see Hugh Blumenfeld, opening up for Lucy Kaplansky last event, part of the Music for a Change series.
First Hugh. Lovely to see him again, although Kim and I also headed out to see him last year at the Coventry Farmer's Market (where the *cough* Guinea Pigs will be playing in June!). A short set; but filled with goodness - opening with Raphael, doing the song about his brother from Strong in Spirit. No "Good Humor Man" (not quite summer enough) and no "How Long (Will the Mill Wheels Turn)" although thatt's probably not the name of the song.
However, extra special bonus, Diane Chodkowski (who I spotted in the house along with long time folkie Cyd Slotoroff) came up on stage to help out with "Friend of the Traveler" (she is the Diane who has "...been from Equador to Cracow, singing like an ambassador from heaven....", and sang with Margo and Adrienne as part of "Madwommin in the Attic" for a time). A fun treat; I was hoping she might join Hugh on stage.
For the Hugh fans - a new album entitled "Father" is coming out in June (in time for Father's Day) and he graduates and puts up his shingle in June also. I'm assuming he's going to be practicing pediatrics; not sure where.
Lucy is also an old favorite of mine; Kim never quite caught the bug. She played a cover heavy set - opening with Lyle Lovett's God Will, closing with Springsteen's Thunder Road (!), and sprinkling in Cohen (Hallelujah), McCartney (Let it Be), and Cash (Ring of Fire) - along with two by her father.
I'm a Lucy fan for a lot of reasons. I've heard her harmonizing on my favorite folk artists for literally decades - perhaps first on John Gorka's tracks. She has written and performed some amazing songs - her cover of Broken Things (Julie Miller) is a staple on my yoga disk, often setting up for Savasana (and often bringing tears). And one year, getting ready for Falcon Ridge Folk Fest she must have called me 1/2 dozen times to be sure her CDs got there; and she was so personable and engaging on the phone that I fell in love with the person to match the voice and music. Having a beloved performer call you on the phone is always kind of an E ticket experience....
But I think I hit on why some folks do not get her - she steadfastly refuses to sing the melody, live. She performed many songs that I know well (her own and covers) and invariably, she sang all over the place. Consciously, deliberately, and beautifully, mind you. But the "hook" of a song is almost always in the melody, and so it's hard to really get the song without that. It's almost like her performances are for the true believer, who has the song's melody in their head (from listening to the track) leaving her free to play around with harmony. She is, as she confessed to having been titled by Gorka "The Dominatrix of Harmony"
She's not on the Falcon Ridge roster for this year, BUT she noted that she, John Gorka, and Eliza Gilkyson are working on a trio project (think "Cry Cry Cry") entitled "Red Horses", and due out in July. Since 2/3 of the trio will be at Falcon Ridge I would not be surprised to see her make an appearance.....
Afterwards, Kim and I grabbed a bite at Gold Roc, a pack of high school theater geeks descended, some in greasepaint and hairspray. Kim guessed "Godspell" based on some of the makeup and I guessed the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts (they are performing "Urinetown" this weekend and next, which I would love to sneak over to see). Having watched one too many episodes of Glee, I half expected an over the top production number. But we let before they got rowdy and tuneful!