Monday, December 14, 2015

Matt Miskie at Sugarloaf Craft Festival, Chantilly VA

It's axiomatic that listening to even a talented performer sing the same five songs for three days straight is enough to drive a craft festival vendor to distraction. This weekend, while exhibiting at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Chantilly VA, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ongoing concert presented by Pennsylvania singer/songwriter Matt Miskie kept me energized and actively listening to the wide songbook of folk favorites he offered. It even got me dancing, which made me less wistful for the music-rich life I enjoy -- and dance to -- in Sarasota.

With a melodic voice that seamlessly blends elements of Jackson Browne, James Taylor, and Gordon Lightfoot, Miskie's arrangements of familiar songs from the Sixties and more contemporary numbers had depth, variety and richness of tone and phrasing.

His rhythm guitar playing, inflected with simple intro runs, nicely backed up the vocals. Rhythm alone, without lead breaks, can be boring and repetitive, especially at solo gigs, but Miskie's technique somehow worked to support the overall sound.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bain Beakley at Marina Jack's in Sarasota FL

Anywhere else, Sunday would be an off-night for live music. But here in Sarasota, Sunday evenings can be magical: At the open-air bar on the ground floor of Marina Jack's restaurant, along the Sarasota bayfront, you can take in the shimmering colors of a Gulf sunset and be treated to the resonant vocals and guitar of local singer-songwriter Bain Beakley.

There are plenty of impressive singers and lead guitarists in this town, but the ones that get my attention, that pull me toward them, combine unique vocal qualities with instrumental stylings that create a special world inside each song they play. The other key ingredient is a warm stage presence that picks up the energies in the room and makes audience members feel included and appreciated.

Bain Beakley does all of the above. He generously offers both his artistry and his personality as an entertainer to whatever "room" he plays. His song mix includes familiar covers and some originals. Word on the street is that he's working on a CD. 

But for now, you have to step out and listen to him live. Next Sunday, make a date with yourself and check out Bain at Marina Jack's. You're in for a treat.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Buddy Gibson's Echo River Project at JR's Old Packinghouse Cafe in Sarasota

Buddy Gibson's usual powerful versatility was bumped up a notch last Wednesday night at JR's Old Packinghouse Cafe in Sarasota where he performed as the Echo River Project with Zach Yoder (guitar and vocals) and Dave Townsend (drums). Virtuoso doesn't even come close to conveying the deep and soulful wall of sound that emanated from that tiny stage.

Memorable numbers included Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower", in a percussive, punchy version mellowed-up by Zach Yoder's Hendrix-flavored lead breaks.

On Marley's "So Much Trouble in the World", Gibson and Yoder duked it out with call-and-response guitar-neck wizardry. Here's a taste from a previous Gibson/Yoder gig:

Echo River Project tributes to Jimmy Buffet's "A Pirate Looks at Forty", Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" and Crosby Stills & Nash's "Helplessly Hoping" gave listeners a sweet and moody break from the higher-octane numbers. Dire Strait's "Calling Elvis"pumped it up with a danceable beat that got this listener out of her seat to work off a delish OPC dinner.

Buddy Gibson's Echo River Project -- with a changing cast of characters -- can be heard every 4rd Wednesday night at the OPC. Well worth the night out.