Friday, August 31, 2012

AM & Shawn Lee -- Montserrat House - Aug 30 2012

AM & Shawn Lee - This was my first time at the Montserrat House, so a couple of quick notes. Doors were about 40 minutes late opening and the upstairs club does not have a downstairs bar like the Velvet Lounge or DC9, so you are left to wander. But since it is a block away from those venues, you can hang out there or any number of places. Once inside, it is a lovely spacious room with a corner stage like the DC9 with at least as much room for the crowd and maybe a handful or two more. It was a bit hot (and that was a running theme during the set), so your comfort may vary. The sound was good and well run, so I would recommend putting this club on your radar.
photo-Lawrence Watson

There was one hour-long set tonight featuring two top notch musicians, AM & Shawn Lee playing guitar, bass, and percussion with a drummer and keyboard/synth player assisting. What was interesting about this set of highly accessible pop music was the subtle diversity underneath. There were songs where you could detect a Morricone-esque Western Americana tune buried within a lush pop structure. Rather than confusing the issue, it was more a marriage of diverse yet compatible partners. As the set went on, there were many varied pop elements from the UK, America, and different eras. The keyboards and synthesizers took me back to Gary Wright, but only on his delicate side. Drums and percussion had a Germanic steadiness, but could also go into funkier rhythms when needed (particularly when Shawn Lee took his one turn on the kit). AM's vocals were clean and pulled everyone into the world of his song. Great pop music is always welcome for me when there is so much going on. But after a few songs of dissecting these fascinating elements, I spent the rest of the set just relaxing and enjoying the vibe. Although the Ozark Mountain Daredevils "Jackie Blue" startled me a bit, it was a perfect fit. The crowd grew to 50-plus and there was even some dancing amid the steady movement. The band was pleasant and had a great rapport with the crowd creating one of the more positive atmospheres you would want at a show.

Quote of the Night: AM to soundman... "Can you drop the reverb while I talk to the people so I don't sound like THE VOICE of GOD."
I wish more people would do this for between song talk. Kudos to the soundman for being on top of this all set long.

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