Hannah Georgas - The first of two Canadian singer-songwriters begin the Friday night festivities at the 9:30 Club. I don't know why I thought it might be a small turnout, but a fair amount of people are here (and it will eventually grow to a sizable crowd). Georgas plays electric guitar and has a guy also playing electric guitar, keyboards and various loops and drumbeats. They begin with an interesting throbbing loop which creates a sense of unease as the guitars ever so slowly join in. This is the sort of drama that I wish more bands would bring to their songs (like Kohoutek or Mono on the psyche circuit). The second song had a duller drum beat and was so-so at best. The duo quickly regained their footing with really nice electric guitar work that created lovely tones for Georgas to sing her songs on top of. She had a good voice pleasantly dancing all over the treble clef, and the songs seemed solid, but due to the careful arrangements and skilled playing, this set was a cut above what I expected.
Kathleen Edwards - Next up is yet another Canadian singer-songwriter. This time there is a full band, so maybe it will rock a bit more. Edwards has been on the scene for about a decade and has established herself well, so this should be a pretty slick outing. The opening number rocked in sort of a country-rock manner--kind of safe, but a fair enough. The second song woke me up out on any complacency I was anticipating with a really strong and deep feel present in her brilliant songwriting. As the songs keep coming, I am wondering if I could not compare her to a strong writer like Josh Ritter who capably delivers great songs. Well, I am not sure if the songs are quite as good, but the delivery is significantly better as this band keeps moving in and out of heavy rock, folk rock, and some fascinating psychedelic guitar solos. This is very Neil Young at some points and it is cool to see the lead guitarist get plenty of time to cut loose. About 45 minutes in, she lets the band rest and the audience settle back as she sings atop of her acoustic guitar. But they are all back quickly enough and get the second half really rocking. Hannah Georgas comes on many times to add some lovely backing vocals and the guys help out with the singing as well. This set really moved me much more than I had expected and this is exactly the kind of show I hoped for when I planned to do 29 shows in February. Although nights off are nice, tonight reminds me of the many great artists you can miss out on when you don't challenge yourself to try something new.
Quote of the Night: Edwards... "I want to say that this song is not about being married and then not married. It's about finding yourself on the streets of Calgary, barfing your guts out."