Jeffrey Foucalt - Foucalt brings all the expected sounds to the table when you see a bearded, flannel shirted singer with acoustic guitar hit the stage. But from the first note onward, it was evident that these sounds would cohere into a nice set of songs. Lyrically, from what I picked out, the usual themes of rolling stones and railroads are there (How many folk songs are there about airports and planes?). But Foucalt's strong voice carries these themes to fine artistic heights and creates an effective mood for the entire set. His guitar playing is solid with the usual blues-folk-Americana moves and he has a good strong picking style. But he explains that he was doing some work around the house and worked his nails down too low with a bit of a sore finger as well, so finger-picking was not available tonight. He did some nice electric work that was closer to Neil Young than Billy Bragg in tone. Nice set and he kept it going for a solid 40 minutes.
Marah - This band has a tour of Spain scheduled soon, but to get warmed up three members are doing a brief acoustic tour. Someone may want to read them the definition of acoustic as very few songs were acoustic tonight. Not that I was disappointed and quite the contrary, the ringing electric guitar was appropriate and welcomed for these lively songs. For the most part it was two guitars and keyboards, although bass and drums were used at times. The Bielanko brothers have reunited for the first time in 3 years, although there was hardly any evidence of rust. The music is loose, assured rock'n'roll with a heartland folk undercurrent in the manner of Replacements. Odd that in doing this blog for 2 1/2 years, I have only made two Replacement references and they have both come this week (there is a long story of a horrid live show by the Replacements which is the likely reason). The roots were showing tonight and the down and dirty rock'n'roll lightened up by an acoustic guitar worked its magic on the large crowd. There was an interesting sludgey undercurrent which was more by design and gave the band a more unique voice than most who work in this genre. Like Langhorne Slim, this band could be a great house band at the most popular bar in town, but they have the chops and the songs to bring it to stages around the world. I would like to see the full band some day as they would likely rock the house down. I was daydreaming about AC/DC and Led Zeppelin which I thought odd, until one song reminded me of the kind of brutal efficiency that AC/DC was able to do. So yes, there was good variety tonight even as the overall theme was maintained. Some of the stage patter was a little funnier and more meaningful to themselves than to any of the crowd and I was worried things might get a little too off-the-wall, but they kept the momentum going well enough to deliver a rock-solid set tonight. But if you are game for a fun night out with a desire to cut loose, you can't do a whole better than this band.
Quote of the Night: From one of the brothers discussing the turntable they were given leading to a new found enjoyment of vinyl records for he and his wife... "My wife was always playing this Supremes record over and over, but it was always the same side. I finally said to her 'why don't you ever listen to Side 2?' Oh my god, there's a Side 2? And then it was like she found six brand new songs for free."