January 04, 2014

New Year / New Music

Well, not THAT new, really.

I braved the cold and slippery roads to make my way to New Haven last evening for the CT Folk / First Friday concert featuring No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow.

Who? - you might wonder.  Well, they are Karyn Oliver, Carolann Solebello, and The YaYas, familiar to this blogger from their visits to the Falcon Ridge Folk Fest. Karyn Oliver was an emerging artist performer in 2011,the Yayas were in the emerging artist showcase in 2012 and returned as "Most Wanted" artists in 2013. And Carolann Solebello is a repeat offender as a founding member of Red Molly, a group she stepped back from in 2010. Has it really been that long? The years they do pile up.... And although I generally get to know Falcon Ridg artists a bit through my work in the merch trailer, I rarely spend much time sitting in front of a stage at the fest, so catching up with Falcon Ridge performers in smaller venues is a nice side project.

Was a good sized crowd, surprising given the weather (bitter cold and the tail end of a pretty nasty storm that left the roads still somewhat snow covered and slippery) and the date (the first Friday after the new year), and a testament to both the loyal First Friday fan base and the quality and reach of these musicians.

This grouping (it's hard to call them a trio in the Cry Cry Cry / Red Horse / Red Molly / Brother Sun mold, since the Yayas brought a husband-wife duo to the ensemble) came together for the Joni Mitchell tribute album Blue (which I picked up last night), which in turn evolved from a women's folk collective called Chicks with Dip. Many of the musicians involved liked playing together so much that smaller sub-groups formed, including this one.

It was a wonderful musical evening. Not sure any one of the artists alone would have dragged me out, but the three in combination created a gravitational field plenty strong to pull me southward. Traditional guitars were supplemented with a bass (both Karyn and Carolann picked up what appeared to be a short scale bass, neither was funkmaster flash, although Carolann came close at one point, but both did fine). Jay from the Yayas brought a pea green Danelectro guitar at times which provided some tasty leads. Jay mostly played a Cajon beat-box, and Catherine played occasional shakers and miscellaneous percussion (and foisted same upon her bandmates unexpectedly). Mostly, each artist's solo efforts benefited through the increased heft of some backing instrumentation and wonderful harmonies - the three women's voices blended wonderfully, and the group was judicious in their use of instruments (sometimes these sorts of singer-songwriter cooperative efforts get a little "guitar army / 70s catholic folk mass" when everyone tried to play all the time) - but not the case here - they were well rehearsed and practiced as any full time band.

They played round-robin (somewhat like the Most Wanted or Friday Night song swaps at Falcon Ridge) which worked well, and augmented their originals with a mini-set from the Blue tribute as well as some interesting covers. I picked up Karyn's newest CD Magdalene, which includes a cover of one-hit-wonder Player's Baby Come Back which I sadly owned in my mis-spent youth (by dint of a K-Tel compilation album, no doubt) although I could not dredge the artist name out of my memory banks at Karyn's challenge to do so after she played it.

For a few years there I made it a habit to purchase the most recent Emerging Artist albums from eMusic (I'm a subscriber, and yeah, I know it's not the most artist-friendly way to purchase music, but I figure I get points for actually buying 16-20 albums from relatively unknowns each year). So I have Oliver's Red Dress and The Yaya's Everything albums - need to pick up their newest Paper Boats (was not sure if I owned it electronically, so did not buy it last night)  

So, great start to 2014, musically. See this trio quartet ensemble if you can!

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