Aaron Lee Tasjan - Alberta Cross's lead guitarist starts things off with a brisk 22-minute set featuring a rather amazing display of sounds from his acoustic guitar. He began with a thumb and light finger picked song that featured loops and enough echo for his single notes to float into chords. His singing is solid, not otherworldly but effective. The second song had more forceful picking and rocked the 35 plus people here with a Jimmy Page-like solo. Finally, an acoustic guitarist that can hold this stage. He follwed that with a couple of folkier cuts, one with an American feel, the other a bit more like Roy Harper. One more step on the fuzz pedal and he left with a flourish. I am happy he did double duty tonight.
Everest - Three guitars, bass, and drums will give anyone a good clue on what is to come. They also start out with some three-part harmony moves before one guitarist takes over much of the singing. Yes, they rock and feature creative moves tucked into comfortable patterns. They have a surprising ferocity to what otherwise could fit into either a modern style indie sound or even a classic 70s rock sound ala Blue Oyster Cult even. The singer puts down the guitar at times and plays an acoustic as well, while another guitarist moves over to keyboards on occasion (again, ala Blue Oyster Cult). Actually, I am thinking a sophisticated Crazy Horse sound describes this well, although the band seems tighter than that. These guys can clearly play and lock in well. No surprise to see someone in the crowd 'flash the horns' as these guys have put out the energy every bit as well as the better punk or metal bands. There was a bit of a lull late in the 57 minute set, but they did manage to vary the songs a bit which ultimately is a positive when you play that long. The strong jamming finish ended things as they had begun, and they made some new friends and fans in what was now a pretty full room.
Alberta Cross - I saw these guys a number of times at the Black Cat and the 9:30 Club but that was long ago. Since I enjoyed them quite a bit, it was time to see if anything has changed. It looks and sounds pretty similar actually, although with some member changes as the core is simply the singer/guitarist and the bass player. They have keys and drums and the fine lead guitarist we have previously seen. They mixed in old tunes with plenty from their new album and everything still fit into their outsider's take on Americana. Songwriter Petter Ericson Stakee spent time in Sweden and London with the bass player also from England. But they have lived in the Brooklyn musical melting pot for some time and there is something just a bit exotic with their music even if the roots are not obvious (at least to me). They certainly pair well with Everest as they also can rock, although their is just a touch more American blues and folk in here. They banged out a full 70 minutes of music and encored with a Rolling Stones number and left the crowd happy. It is nice to see them still at it as they have proven to me that they have a lot to offer, both on stage and on their fine recordings.
Plug of the Night: The new issue of Folkworld is up with plenty of reprintings of shows reviewed here along with hundreds of CD reviews not featured here. There is a ton of material in English and German, so if you like world folk music, check it out.