AUGUST 2010       (back)

Joan Osborne Duo: Aug 27th @ Sanctuary Concerts (Chatham, NJ)

I've seen Joan a number of times but always with a full band so I couldn't pass up the chance to see this first attempt at a more intimate duo performance. I hope she continues with it because it was beautiful and I'd love to bring it to Woodbridge. (Spider Web)

She did perform her two most popular tunes, Saint Theresa and One Of Us, but for the most part she did an eclectic mix of covers including Tupelo Honey (Van Morrison), Everybody Is a Star (Sly Stone) and Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers). (One of Us)

In another rare event she actually picked up a guitar for Saint Theresa and Tupelo Honey. She's not much of a guitarist, but what she played worked beautifully and I'd encourage her to continue.

She also covered The Grateful Dead and Dylan, with her keyboardist, Keith Cotten,  jumping on the church organ for the Dylan tune. Cool and amusing. There's a reason she's sung with The Funk Brothers and The Grateful dead, among others, she's one of the finest soul singers around. This was an excellent showcase for her vocal virtuosity.

 

Lyle Lovett and his Large Band: Wellmont Theater (Montclair, NJ)

I often tell people that Lyle Lovett is the most underappreciated and misunderstood artists in show biz. Because of his early country works, most people either think of him as a country artist, or worse, as the "Pretty Woman's" not so pretty first husband.

In fact, he's a master of numerous forms of American music including swing, jazz, blues, rock, country, gospel, folk and bluegrass and is such a country gentleman that it's easy to see why any woman could fall for him. (including several I know).

His show included a wide variety of fan favorites like My Baby Don't Tolerate, Cute As a Bug, That's Right (You're Not From Texas) and She's No Lady She's My Wife as well as some material from his 2009 release, Natural Forces, which I had not heard before like the aptly titled rock tune It's Rock and Roll. He always includes some covers of Texas songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, and some classic tunes like Baby it's Cold Outside, which was amusing on a New Jersey August evening.

 But amusing is a big part of a Lyle show as his dry sense of humor interjects anecdotes throughout the show. One story, that he returned to over and over, was how two of his best friends were from New Jersey and when they moved down to Texas with their exotic accents, they were able to steal all the girls.

His 10 piece band and 4 backup singers (5 when actress Gloria Rueben came out to sing on a few tunes) navigated seamlessly thru the various genres entering and exiting the stage at various times to give us everything from solo folk singer and bluegrass quartet to 14 piece swing band. My tickets for this show were courtesy of my membership in public radio station WFUV. For details see www.wfuv.org

 

McPeake: August 11th @ Woodbridge Wednesdays

We finished off our debut summer series with McPeake from Belfast, Ireland. They're led by Francis McPeake IV who plays Uilleann pipes, carrying on the tradition which began with his great grandfather, Francis McPeake, before World War I. They play traditional Irish music as well as contemporary original material.

Their set included the aforementioned mix of old and new Irish music including the tunes Head Held High, Gypsy, Friars, She's With Me and Will Ye Go as well as a "Belfast meets Liverpool" cover of The Beatles' Norwegian Wood. The Beatle cover came with a story of how Francis' dad and Grandfather were invited by the Beatles to basically "hang out" and teach the Beatles some Irish instruments and music. Unfortunately, they had been away from Belfast too long and were anxious to get home to their families and turned down the offer. (Norwegian Wood)

I received positive feedback from all the summer shows but the reaction from this show was unprecedented. For weeks, everywhere I went I kept hearing how much people loved this band. I wonder if they're in the U.S. next summer?

 

Aztec Two-Step: Aug 4th @ Woodbridge Wednesdays

  Last April, Aztec Two-Step kicked off our "Music on Main Street" series with their Simon and Garfunkel tribute show, which was so well received that it seemed appropriate to bring them back to perform their original material. Our summer street series was moved indoors due to the threat of rain, which never came, but the warm indoor crowd was treated to one of the best performances I've seen these guys do, and I've seen them many times.

They performed all the usual suspects as well as a couple of covers (Everly Brothers & Simon and Garfunkel) and were generally in great spirits, great voice and, as usual, peppered the performance with great guitar licks and banter. (Walking on Air)

The surprise of the evening was discovering that Rex is about to release "The John Lennon Song Project" with Tom Dean and Alana MacDonald of Devon Square. It's a re-Imagined look at the Lennon Beatle songs with violin, cello. accordion guitars and 3 part folk harmonies. Really beautiful!! Look for them at Music On Main Street in the not too distant future.