Laura Warshauer - I was certainly looking forward to this set after my chance to chat with Ms. Warshauer the other day. She came out with two other musicians on viola (electric and traditional) and acoustic guitar. She played guitar on most songs and had plenty of harmony vocal assistance from both musicians. The guitars sounded great together as there was both finger style and picked rhythms employed. And a viola is always a great choice for a small line-up as it is able to reach down into some rich lower notes, while still able to handle higher lead runs like a violin. This was complex enough to offer instrumental flourish, but still allowed acres of space for Laura Warshauer's powerful voice. She does remind one of Cyndi Lauper with her power and resonance (not to mention the Jersey accent when she speaks, yes it's not Brooklyn but it's in the ballpark). Warshauer's songs are not pure folk, but have more of a rock ballad feel in the classic singer-songwriter style. She has a great feel for the flow of her songs and can build the intensity with subtle volume shifts. The 30 minute set breezed by and made a good connection with the crowd, a few of which have heard her previously in Annapolis and a recent show in Baltimore. All was well enough, but she blew me away with a solo voice and guitar performance of "Rockstar" a song of hers that has some crazy cool vocal lines that I have not ever really heard before. Great finish for a fine set.
Bob Schneider - Add another excellent musician to the list of names that I take me decades to pick up on. Bob Schneider has had a long career with diverse bands and is now into his second decade as a solo artist. The diversity shows as it is tough to pin down a specific style, yet everything flows so very well from song to song. He has a full band that covers drums, bass, lead guitar, and a guy that plays keyboards, brass and accordion. He begins on piano and his voice reminds me of a cross between Mark Lanegan and Morphine's singer. Blues is evident, but that does not seem quite right. He switches to guitar and the second cut had some blasting rock moves screaming out from quiet moments. Brilliant dynamics that took me to the edge of my seat. He and at least some of these musicians are from Austin and there is plenty of that diverse western feel in these arrangements, but the songs go off into whatever sonic space and history they like. There is a lot of quiet intensity here and sometimes I am not sure if I am hearing something akin to Nick Drake or Nick Cave. He has both a dry and overt sense of humor and is fun to listen to, and anyone who references Shields + Yarnell is pretty hard to ignore (he and the keyboardist had a short robot contest). Powerful music that held my attention for the full 90 minutes (plus encore). It was a tricky choice of shows tonight, but I am very happy with the choice I made.
Quote of the Night: Bob Schneider... "Originally that song was going to be about an arc of semen. But then it changed to something else a little less esoteric. Some times I have some bad ideas."