Age Meets Beauty: Songwriters on Parade

It’s a short hike down 6th Street, across town to Waterloo Records. Ninety degrees, sunny. Pass Mother Egan’s Irish Pub, already into Friday’s music at just past noon.

Waterloo hosts multiple bands throughout each festival. My niece Kate’s favorite in 2007 was catching Iggy Pop and the Stooges there in full glory, autograph and all. We were on our way to see Shelby Lynne.

It was forty minutes early. The crowd was active but sparse. Ten minutes later people began staking out their territory and it filled up. I planted myself right in the “S” section. Paul Simon, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra. Plenty to check out while waiting.

Her band assembled on a small stage fifteen feet away. No drums, just a shaker, bass guitar and Shelby. Just three songs, but it was like having her in your living room. I managed to escape with purchasing only two cds. Nina Simone and Jake Shimabukuro.

Never made it out of the S section. (more on Shelby later)

Checked out Whole Foods, across the street from Waterloo. Like the Pittsford Wegmans, the showcase store in headquarter city. Supermarket as tourist attraction. There were no bands playing in Whole Foods, just lots of musician types wandering aimlessly.

We’ll review the store in an upcoming food section.

Jimmy LafaveJimmy LafaveMother Egan’s was an easy choice next as Red House hosted their showcase that afternoon, already underway. Jimmy Lafave accompanied himself on guitar, and was joined by two guys on accordion and lead guitar. He chooses some familiar songs from the past and wraps his distinctive voice around the lyrics.

Meg Hutchinson was the newcomer. Just signed by Red House, played a number of songs from her debut cd. Her rookie apprehension disappeared thirty seconds into the first song. Live performances bring songs to life in a way the recorded version can’t. This performance reminds me how true that is. Solid writing by a young artist, where will it take her…

Meg HutchinsonMeg Hutchinson“The High Above and the Down Below” is the latest release from Cliff Eberhardt. I’d guess he is in his late 30’s, maybe 10-15 years older than Meg Hutchinson. His songs have that extra, rugged, course quality those years add to a writer’s experience. Thoroughly enjoyable set.

Variety of Folk (WRUR, Saturday mornings 8 to 10) host, Tom Bohan first introduced me to Ray Bonneville’s music three years ago. Tom has a keen sense of style, and was right in thinking I’d like him. Rhythmic, plucky guitar. Intelligent lyrics. Unbounded in his songwriting. His performance matches my expectations. Cheers to Ray BonnevilleRay BonnevilleRay Bonneville.

And thanks to Tom Bohan for calling him to my attention.

If Ray Bonneville is one of the elder statesmen at Red House Eliza Gilkyson is the Queen of the label. Her best songs stand with any song ever written. Poetic, pensive, complex and simple. A tough combination to achieve. She accompanies herself with excellent guitar arrangements, and sing with great expression.

She only had time for a few songs, but it was worth it.

Thank you Red House.

(Just a note about these sketches. Small venues allow for a close proximity to the performers. These afternoon showcases also give you the chance to meet and speak with them. With enough courage, or stupidity-see Jesca Hoop entry, you can get them to sign the sketch, as each of these musicians did above. Click on any picture or drawing in any entry to see a larger version.)