The April edition of On Your Radar featured Sam Baker, Krista Detor, and Hannah and Maggie on Stage 3 of Rockwood Music Hall. This one was arguably, one of the best ever. The talent level was through the roof.
We should preface with a “better late than never” qualification. it take me a while to sift through and edit photos and videos. We’re can all be grateful that our friend, Gordon Nash, posts such timely next-day reviews of each OYR (and other events he attends).
The evening kicked off with Sam, who is from Texas. John, in the pre-set interview, noticing Sam’s drawl, asked him if he’d reverted to his “childhood” accent. Sam, intrinsically humorous, teasingly replied, “No, I don’t have two languages, there’s no other version. This is generic.” Going beyond humor, John asked Sam to describe the horrendous explosion he survived in 1986 that eventually turned him into the songwriter and poet he is today. Sam gave what he calls the “Cliff Notes” version. The full version can be found in our current April 2014 issue.
Carrie Elkin, who is on tour with Sam and opens some shows, provided background vocals and Chip Dolan was on piano.
Carrie has a powerhouse vocal instrument and was especially effective tapping into Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More,” on the tragic “Odessa,” a song about a rich oilman’s son whose only love died in a car wreck he was responsible for.
I had heard one song by Krista Detor on John’s show, “Sunday Breakfast,” and got the very correct impression that her material contains songs of lyric substance. Krista’s assured stage presence and humor formed an immediate connection with the audience. She speaks and sings with a breathy delivery, creating a smoky sultriness that might have functioned as an aphrodisiac for some. (Right, Gordon?) Fortunately, her husband, Dave, on guitar, was there to provide a reality check for anyone who needed it.
She mostly switched between accordion and piano, but a real standout was “Middle of a Breakdown” which she sang not playing anything, supported by the band. She really stretched her voice out on this one.
Sitting at the piano, in a full display of wry humor, she told the story about writing “From Miss Emma Brawley” (from the Darwin Songhouse Project), then launched into the song. John Platt can be heard breaking up during the performance.
In the intro to “Waterline,” Krista detonated another conflagration of wickedly droll humor, then accompanied herself on accordion. Her spirited performance on the instrument led me to think she’d make herself right at home at a Zydeco festival, if she chose.
This was a significant discovery for me. I’ll be adding her music to my collection without fail.
Hannah and Maggie, the Acoustic Live February cover artist feature, was the third act. Joking with John, during the interview before their set, they deflected the general comparison that usually gets made to the Indigo Girls, “because we’re two lesbians with guitars.” They joked that they were more like “the greatest lesbian duo of all time, Simon and Garfunkel.” They are often included in Simon and Garfunkel tribute shows.
The introduction to “Burlington, VT” told the story of the song’s inception and maintained the evening’s flow of humor. Their exquisite harmonies upheld the evening’s extraordinary talent level.