April 06, 2014

The Boxcar Lilies at Chestnut Tree Concerts

Traveled over to Oxford, CT last evening for a house concert with The Boxcar Lilies.

I've seen "the Lilies" before, as emerging artists at last year's Falcon Ridge Folk Festival; they will return to main stage next year as part of the Most Wanted Song Swap. A well deserved election, in my opinion; their newest CD Sugar Shack was one of my emerging artist purchases (I usually pick up 3-4 of the emerging artists recordings each year) and has been a welcome addition to my music rotation.

But it's always a treat to see a full set by an emerging artist, even more so in a smaller or intimate space, and Chestnut Tree Concerts, a house concert series, is as intimate as it gets!

The Lilies each have a unique, and distinctive personality and energy. Dark haired Katie Clarke seems cut from traditional "singer songwriter" cloth; writing personal songs and singing / playing with confidence - though when she picked up the banjo her urban affect fell away a little. Fair haired Stephanie Marshall, the groups described "Rock Lily" traded off on guitar, shaker, and washboard, and seemed the most eager to jump in and harmonize. And in the middle (in terms of both hair color and stage plot), Jenny Goodspeed, provided wonderful instrumental diversity (guitar, bass, uke).

The Lilies are perhaps best know for vocal harmonies, and they had that in spades last evening. Although they played acoustically (except for the bass) they filled the space with sound and mixed themselves perfectly. In this era of effects pedals, vocal reverb and compression, and using amplification to reach out and grab the audience, an acoustic trio who can rock a room without a PA system is such a treat.

With a healthy mix of originals and covers, there was a lot to like - Katie and Jenny split most of the writing duties, with covers by Neil Young, Dave Carter, Townes Van Zandt, Stephanie Marshall / Dave Weber. The songs range from up tempo, bluegrass inspired harmony showcases, and more personal tunes with harmonies mixed in judiciously.

The Boxcar Lilies: Katie Clarke, Jenny Goodspeed, and Stephanie Marshall
House Concert means up close and personal, no sound system, and difficult lighting. But what a great show!
So, yeah, I'm a fan. Looking forward to hearing more from The Boxcar Lilies from the main stage at this year's Falcon Ridge, as well as mixing in at the workshop stage. And looking forward to seeing what unexpected delights the Emerging Artist showcase will uncover this year!