Expectations were sky-high this past Wednesday when we made the easy run down I-85 to Chapel Hill to see old Friend Daniel Clarke with his new boss k.d. lang. We weren't prepared for one of our all-time top-five musical experiences ever, thanks to the singularly stunning expressive power of ms. lang's voice, the spot-on support of her band and the up-front seats we lucked into. Clad in basic black and barefooted, k.d. worked the entire stage and often came up to the very edge and made eye contact that was almost unsettling it was so personal. She accompanied herself on acoustic guitar for her lilting "Upstream" opener, did her obvious thrillers like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and her own Grammy-winning "Constant Craving" and some amazing new tunes like "Jealous Dog" on which she accompanied herself on banjo to great effect. She even joked about taking up the five-string as kind of a "chick magnet." She joked about a lot of things and she was very good at it. Daniel on keyboards, Yamaha grand and accordion, was the epitome of taste and style, never overplaying...the same goes for his former fellow Mandy Moore bandmate Josh Grange on guitars and a weeping pedal steel, Brazilian lead guitarist Grecco Buratto, bassist Ian Walker and drummer Danny Frankel. A perfect sound system and elegant but subtle stage lighting portrayed these sensitive players perfectly and the 1400-plus crowd offered up a couple of standing o's even before the last tunes. It was especially sweet to have Daniel's mom, grandma and other family members in the audience, who were all lovingly greeted by k.d. and the band in a generously lengthy after-show meet & greet. So that sealed the deal. We were all blown away that one of the best singers on the planet, period, was also such a gracious, down-to-earth human being. The next closest gig is in Wilmington, Delaware on March 11th. It would be worth the trip. Period. We didn't hear about the unimaginably tragic and senseless shooting of UNC student body president Eve Carson until we got up the next morning...the most uplifting and the most devastating of events...same day, same place.
I do want to say how much a bunch of us enjoyed Moondi Klein and Jimmy Gaudreau at AC&T a week ago tonight. I even got emotional hearing some of those gorgeous Chesapeake ballads like "High Sierra" and "Morning Blues" again and especially Moondi's gut-wrenching take on Eric Bogle's "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda." It's an achingly beautiful piece about a maimed Aussie soldier in World War I, and it is powerful, especially in Moondi's sensitive hands. He recorded it with the Kruger Brothers on their first Carolina Scrapbook collection...you might want to find it.
It was two nights out in a row as Saturday found us catching Brad Spivey's second set with the fabulous Honky Tonk Experience playing a home game at Shenanigans. It was kind of work- related since BS&HTE is the house band for the upcoming Patsy Cline concert I'm putting together for the Virginia Historical Society. Nobody does real country music any better than these boys and they were gracious enough to take the assignment to learn a bunch of Patsy's hits and some others. We got to hear Kelli Moss (of MoDeBree) sit in with a couple winners, especially "I Fall To Pieces." Perfect. We've lined up some very talented locals for the show and some surprises as well...only catch is, it's part of a day-long Patsy Cline symposium and you have to pay for the whole thing if you want to see the concert. There may be some day-of-concert-only sales pending availability. If you're a real fan of Winchester's former Virginia Hensley, you might want to spend April 4th with us.
JAMinc is busy this spring, with a couple of partnerships and another InYourEar Studio event.
On March 19th we're co-sponsoring with the River City Blues Society, an appearance by renowned blues harmonica players Dennis Gruenling and Steve Guyger and other special guests. It'll be out on Quioccasin Road at Bleu Bistro and will showcase their Tribute to Little Walter CD paying homage to the first harmonica player to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The ceremony is at the Waldorf in NYC on Monday night , 40 years after Little Walter's death. So it's a timely tribute and all of us at JAMinc are happy to be part of this great show.
The very next night, March 20th, has JAMinc and the Virginia Historical Society presenting the Country Gentlemen Reunion Band in their beautiful new Robins Family Forum auditorium at 428 North Boulevard. The group is comprised with original Gents Eddie Adcock and Tom Gray, along with Jimmy Gaudreau and Charlie Waller's son Randy. This show will have an educational component telling the story of the group's impact on bluegrass during the evolutionary sixties and seventies. It promises to be an entertaining and informative evening, and it starts a little earlier than you're probably used to...6pm, so make your plans and get your tickets soon. Hearing Randy sing his dad's songs so lovingly while playing Charlie's old Martin herringbone will give you chills...I promise.
Down the road...don't forget the Del McCoury Band and Willie Nelson at the National (March 15th and March 18th respectively) oh, and if you hurry, tonight at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen...the incomparable Chris Smither.
And a lovely parting gift...check out this really well done interview with Chris Thile and a couple of his Punch Brothers from NPR's All Things Considered last week. The guys will play Charlottesville's Satellite Ballroom on April 11th and The Birchmere on May 23rd. The bar is now set so remarkably high...where do we go from here?
This is the shortest weekend of the year, so make the most of it...TT