Dance for the Dying - This is the second time around for me seeing this local pop rock quartet. The set is quite similar to last time as they are a sharp little outfit with high quality players. I particularly enjoy the nimble bass runs tonight. The drums and slashing guitar sounds keep the pace as well. They create a nice thick sound while establishing the pop hooks throughout. The female vocalist plays some keys (as well as two of the others at times), so there is a lot for her to sing over. Her voice is plenty powerful enough to keep up and it never loses the melody, making for a sound that cuts deeper than similar material. This is far smoother than edgy, but there sense of power is the key to what makes their more effective songs work so well. And they had balloons which rarely fail with the crowd, as long as you are not Bauhaus. Another solid effort that the 50 or so people in the crowd quite enjoyed.
Jay Stolar - From NYC comes this guitarist-singer who plays acoustic or just sings on top of the drums and keyboards that comprise his backup band. Everybody sings which works nicely, and adds more variety. I would call his music soulful folk with enough classic pop and rock moves to handle various arrangements beyond what is here tonight. He moves away from the mic often, which I usually find kind of gimmicky. But in this case it is shrewd as not only does it bring the crowd in, but it creates a bit of rising action and receding volume that creates a more flowing environment for the songs. This is subtle theater and is a nice way of doing more with less. And he and the band went out in the crowd which was fully absorbed by now. It was a young bunch and the enthusiasm was quite welcome with the performers and this reviewer. There was even a nice jam at the end with Charlene Kaye on guitar and Stolar on bass which showcased the excellent keyboardist. Stolar has the songs (some have made it to TV or movies) and the style and personality to match.
Charlene Kaye - Although Ms. Kaye more often plays with a band, she said she wanted to get back to the basics of the songs and do them solo tonight with just an electric guitar and her voice. She banged out a ton of songs in the 50 minute set and kept the crowd up front fully engaged. I was surprised at how bluesy the music was as I was expecting a little more pop rock. There are certainly a lot of those elements in her songs as well, but she had a modern twist on lounge blues that was both in her voice and in her intriguing guitar work. She had a song that reminded me of Steamhammer, which I never expected to write during this set. She was a quality player, but mostly made interesting choices that I don't often see in a solo set. Everything was playful and with a lot of enthusiasm that the crowd gave back. She mentioned it felt like a living room show which was quite true and extremely successful. The music was excellent tonight, but the vibe was even more uplifting. She will be back with some new songs and a band this spring, so I will be interested to hear what is new. I think everyone up front will be back as well.
Quote of the Night - Jay Stolar: "We drove down today from New York City. We ate at Chipotle... not that that has anything to do with anything."