Marian McLaughlin - Third time is the charm in seeing this local psyche-folkster, but then again, so were the first and second times. Pretty much the general points I made in the last review are applicable tonight. She is definitely one of my favorites in the area as she occupies time and territory that very few people are capable of, these days. Although one person who does is tonight's headliner, which makes this a very solid show for folk fans longing for the days of Joan Mills, Mary-Anne, and Licorice McKechnie (and their better known counterparts). Her guitar work is so intriguing, one minute it sounds (and appears) like the work of a consummate outsider, and the next a medieval sarabande seems to appear out of nowhere. Alas, the slow incoming crowd caused a little delay in starting with the result of still a dozen people or more missing this set. Their loss, as the couple of dozen folks that caught this set, certainly appreciated the magickal qualities it had. A couple of new songs worked their way in nicely with the others that I am starting to get comfortable with by now. Based on tonight's line-up and some future shows she has upcoming, it appears the local club promoters are beginning to understand McLaughlin's quality and appeal. Stay tuned and come early next time.
Faces on Film - This has been a band in the past, but lately and tonight it is simply Mike Fiore on vocals and electric and acoustic guitar. The guitar work is heavily treated to invoke a spacey feeling which gives a nice backdrop for his vocals which soar along, not terribly unlike Damian Jurado perhaps. He has got nice songs and a lovely style, but it did seem to stay far too much on one plane of tempo and tone for the 45 minute set. It was acting too much like an epic lullaby for me. I enjoyed it, but was struggling with keeping my eyes open. Still, this was a pleasant feeling and not boredom.
Marissa Nadler - Third time around for me with Ms. Nadler as well. I first saw her in Rhode Island in 2006 at a Terrastock Festival specializing in heavy psychedelic bands. The festival always has room for good folk artists and Marissa Nadler held her own and was quite memorable that night. She has steadily developed into a well respected artist over this time and recently released another lovely album (reviewed here). But even that was not new enough as she had two even newer songs to play tonight, one for the first time. Her voice was as ethereal as ever, with just enough grounding to show some foundation for her story telling/character songs. She brought Mike Fiore up to sing some harmony vocals on four songs which made for a nice addition. She switched from 12-string to 6 and apologized for the tuning variations needed later in the set. Haunting wonderful songs, marred only by the loud dance party going on downstairs and the clomping up and down the wood steps to the now three levels of DC9. Acoustic acts have it tough in many of the clubs here in DC. But the audience was highly focused on this engaging music and the crowd had swelled to over 40 people which is good, but could be better for an artist this talented. Hopefully things will continue to go well for this talented songwriter.
Quote of the Night: I'll paraphrase a story by Mike of Faces on Film... "I remember playing here 3-4 years ago. At that time, I was touring with a band and we were in Philadelphia. The drummer was staying with a friend, so I called to pick him up. He said he had decided he was going to culinary school. I said, 'great, glad you found something you want to do', so when can I pick you up. He said 'no, you don't understand, I'm starting tomorrow'. So, I had to come down to DC and do a set with me on guitar and playing some organ and I was not too happy about it. Somebody came to me after the show and said how much he liked my songs, but then added that maybe it would be better in more of a band environment. I was not too proud of my reaction to that, so if he's here I would like to buy him a drink.... Of course, he would probably have the same criticism tonight."