4 January 2015 04:55PM
Home Bass 2 rocked on until after 1:15 this morning, and I … well, stayed on. I got a second wind ‘round midnight and had a good time, but there’s an awful lot of setting up and breaking down at a multiple band benefit concert (for Habitat for Humanity), and had Tommy Stinson, headliner/curator, booked only the best of them, I would have had a better time and more sleep.
What is it that makes a good singer, musician, band? Why do you have a good time at a concert? Why do you sometimes hear good voices, lyrics and/or music, but aren’t compelled or even engaged? And why does it often take more than one or two hearings to get a performer? If I knew more about music, maybe I could tell you, but I suppose it’s performance itself, not so much the elements, but the way they entwine and become the ineffable thing we call charisma.
Last night, I got Dust Bowl Faeries. I saw them at the Spotty Dog on a night last summer, when Ryder Cooley, the faerie queen, hid behind Hazel, her stuffed ram. The lighting was dark, and the mix was off, so I could neither see nor hear her well. I managed to hear and like a song about Hudson well enough, and liked it even better at Helsinki. The Faeries (the other two are Sara Ayers and Karen Cole) are originals, an acquired taste perhaps, but I have now officially acquired it, after only two exposures. They play a witches (bitches?) brew of instruments—accordion, lap-steel guitar, electronic piano, ukulele, and sometimes, but not last night, musical saw, but unlikely as it sounds, it sounds great. Cooley adorns herself like a slightly mad child/woman, sings with a throaty voice that can summon elemental beings and animal spirits, and talks with the same voice in a lower register, in a seemingly diffident and tentative, but probably assured, inherently comic way, on script and off-the-cuff both.
And then there was Happiness, a newish band with a sound sometimes as infectious as the Beatles, which made me appropriately happy, especially on “I Wanna Be Your Man,” and the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright,” although none of their own songs registered. Yet. (Three of the members of Happiness are also members of Deer Tick; the newish name plays better in Columbia County.)
And Elvis Perkins, an interesting folk/rock singer/songwriter with a voice I love, especially on recordings, emerging from a tragic personal history into his own happiness with a new album we got to hear some of. And Jesse Malin, who roused us in the wee small hours by insisting we get up on the dance floor, to dance or not, and his terrific band, which unlike the others, has two terrific women in it. And Stinson, who played well with others, generously so, all for the benefit of Habitat for Humanity and all the humans left in the room.
That concert would have been more than enough.
Elvis Perkins + Tommy Stinson
Jesse Malin + Catherine Popper