Wendell Kimbrough - We have a local singer-songwriter with acoustic guitar in front of a microphone. Common enough event in this or any club, but first the scenario is unique tonight. This is a 'downstairs' show at the synagogue which takes place in the foyer where you can get refreshments prior to taking the steps upstairs. Tonight, they have a small stage set up and it is standing room only. That is a concern as sight lines are not particularly great. Also, people were weary of standing for two different acts, but two acts that allow for thoughtful musical appreciation. Hopefully folding chairs will be part of future formulas to downstairs shows as more than half of the far younger than I crowd were sitting on the floor during the headliner's set. But back to the music. Kimbrough has a fine voice and can play delicate finger picked patterns as well as churning out the chords. His songs ranged from contemplative folk into various offshoots of light rock and more rhythmic oriented tunes. He invited a cellist with him for half of his 40 minute set and that gives things a kick up, including a Baba O'Reilly sounding riff. Good songs, decent arrangements lead to a nice warm-up and someone worth checking out again some time.
Balmorhea - This Austin based musical collective has a lot going on. There are drums throughout with some electronics. Basses are either electric or stand-up or used in tandem. Guitars come and go as do keyboards and there is a violin and cello that is the key to things along with propulsive keyboards. Lots of instrument switching within and between their mostly instrumental songs. There is some vocalization although lyrics are less important than the sonic effect. This is mostly modern, moderately complex progressive music that flows more than it jars. They do not seem quite as daring as Sapat or Do Make Say Think, but they nail their grooves particularly well. Just when I think this is lacking a little pizzazz, the two strings do some fun things with the keyboards pounding away. Ultimately, this was a fun live experience that kept me involved. Bands like this are tricky and worth staying with as the reward build over time.