Tim Lake - First time for me in Sova, although I have walked by it a few times as it is next to the Rock'n'Roll Hotel. I may have ordered something years ago, now that I think about it, but I did not know they booked much music there. It is a nice little coffee shop that expands into a bigger place with a couple of upstairs rooms and an outdoors area in the back. Tim Lake starts things out upstairs with a mobile PA to assist with the vocals. He plays acoustic guitar with a pick in modestly striking manner, although he does add some nice fingerstyle in a song later on in the set. He is doing some covers, maybe some originals, as I certainly don't know them all. Scott Walker's "Duchess" is all I need to hear to prove to me he has good taste in song selections. Everything sounded good and he has a pretty good voice, which obviously helps if there is only one instrument supporting it. Good assured playing, despite his being nervous as he announced early. A nice 25 minute set that the relaxed patrons enjoyed.
Kelly and the Ruths - This Philadelphia trio went without the microphones tonight and set up with an acoustic bass, a snare drum and an acoustic guitar. I was hopeful the vocals would come through, but had no worries once everything started. The two female voices and one male voice came through loud and clear and were the star of the show. I really enjoyed the thoughtful harmonies and was reminded a little bit of the Unthanks at times. It was only at times, as the band produced an eclectic mix of songs that were folk, jazz (contemporary and classic), pop, blues, and combinations thereof. The Akron/Family would love a set like this. The songs also went from deep and touching (Beekeeper) to rowdy fun (Ella Fitzgerald's When I get low, I get high). The bass was nice, percussion helpful, and the guitar strummed along steadily, but it was the vocals from all three that lifted the songs. Perhaps they are catching me at a perfect moment, as I have been wearing out my copies of the recent Broadway revival of Hair and the original Ian Gillian version of Jesus Christ Superstar over the last few weeks. I do get into moods where I marvel at great vocal leads and choruses from Thomas Tallis on down to those soundtracks to the Zombies, etc. And the songs I heard tonight fit right in and made for a fun show for me and the one to two dozen people hanging out. They just ended a 19-city tour, so hopefully they will grace our fair city again. They could easily break out with a lot of music lovers from the indie rock world and beyond.
Nathan Robinson - We now have the lead singer/guitarist of the Archivists doing a solo set on acoustic guitar and harmonica. He also has Kelly join him on harmony vocals for a few songs. I was not surprised that he would do well as he has proven to be a good singer/songwriter with the Archivists. He played mostly if not all originals (I did not detect a cover, which certainly doesn't prove anything). His guitar style was assured as he flat picked assertively through the songs. He was able to adjust intensities within song and created nice drama where you could really focus on the lyrics. His 35 minute set flew by and capped off a very nice evening of music.
Quote of the Night: Nathan Robinson mentioning the tip jar an merch table for Kelly... "Please support her, she's gotta get back to the real world." Kelly: "Real world--Boooooo!"