Thursday, October 11, 2012

Zoe Muth in Cambridge

We were back from Maine early and so at the last minute were able to go see Zoe Muth at Club Passim.

Parking was a bitch ... Cambridge has decided to make the spaces around the common into resident parking for some ridiculous reason.  Where's Scott Brown when you need him?  There was a dirty old van with Washington state plates taking one of the best places and I figured they were tourists and would move soon ... then I realized that was the "tour bus" of the band we were going to see!

I finally found a spot and met Sarah across the street from Passim and then we sidled in there past a rude truck that was almost blocking their entrance.  Geez, the Boston area in the Fall can get very crowded.  We had our "usual" table and sat own at 7:?? or so for another crackerjack vegan meal and extremely limited beer selection.  They're so cute.

Anyway, then the band came on and were really fun and really friendly.  As I've commented before, her mando player (Ethan Lawton) is close to the top echelon to my ears.  Mike McDermott on bass had a funky hat and a few good runs.  Greg Nies on drums mostly played brushes but his timing and cymbal clashes were excellent.  Stell Newsome played some kick-ass telecaster ... nice old guitar ... and got some great sounds out of it, especially strumming the rhythm while Zoe crooned.

And boy did she croon!  Zoe writes and sings songs that are essentially straight-ahead country but she does them in a style that perhaps isn't as accessible as a Merle Haggard or (Dog knows) a modern "country" star. She looks to get at the feeling inside them and I think she gets there remarkably often.  At some moments last night I felt she really succeeded at elevating the song and the souls of all who cared to listen the way a Haggard or Williams would do.  She mumbles and slurs and skips over syllables and it's great, captivating, sincere stuff.  Go hear her!

The set list was great too.  She kills Dock Boggs' Country Blues on her new record, which is hard to do since it's been recorded by so many people, and they did that live even better than on the recording.  She did the "hits" like Walking The Line, You Only Believe Me When I'm Lying, Let's Just Be Friends, If I Can't Trust You With a Quarter, and Moonlight Hotel.  The band left her alone for two beautiful solo tunes (I can't believe I can't remember the second of them, which was just incredibly moving), and then they finished the set with her outstanding cover of the classic Get It While You Can, and my favorite song of hers, I've Been Gone.

Back for a quick encore and then off to the night.  They've been on the road for a while and I, for one, really appreciated them stopping by Cambridge!

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