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Sunday, September 19, 2004
a tasty slice of time
Listening to:public radio
Reading:sirens
Weather:41 now, but 37 an hour ago!
Chilly morning, might have to cover my tomatoes tonight just to be safe. Gorgeous clear skies today, the pre and post hurricane skies have been stunning this season.

Saw a wonderful house concert last night, the Dreamsicles. Texas beauty Cary Cooper sings harmony, and Indian finger-picker Tom Prasada-Rao plays acoustic 6 string and electric sitar to accompany his warm vocals. A very pleasant show all the way around. Very airy and modest, some tunes groove-based vocal fun, some tunes slow ringing sustained finger-style guitar underlying uncomplicated ballad-like melodies. Very understated and steady energy, which is a style that lends itself well to house concerts. The higher-energy or extremely dynamic kind of performer is a bit much for the intimate setting of a house concert, in my view. These two seemed so very at ease in Robert & Leslie & Ben's living room, making the audience experience very relaxing and mellow.

Prasada-Rao's guitar-playing was the star of the show. Extremely clean performance supported by a very warm, round sound. He plugged in (unusual for a house concert) but the room mix was about 3 parts acoustic 2 parts mildly-processed reinforcement, most on the low end. He uses both a soundhole pickup and piezo-style bridge pickup. He plays a gorgeous handcrafted Breedlove that he said was only 7 or 8 years old, yet sounded well-worn with very little bright edge. The essence of his sound is closely connected to his use of open tunings. Though he plays such a wide variety of tunings that he doesn't fall into the trap that many open-tuners do of over using a small collection of chords. His voice is a beautiful accompaniment to the guitar, very clean, open, and in tune.

The tunes were well-designed, many seemed to be the calculated results of songwriting workshop assignments, according to their introductions. Typically I prefer less talk more rock, so to speak, but the short intros really gave the listener hints at what to listen for, and gave the tunes valuable context. Several songs had mildly spiritual themes.

What took center stage all night was the love affair between Cary and Tom. Cary tended to give the lengthier intros on her tunes, and at one point in the show, one could have reasonably surmised that they two had been dating for 4 years. But the google-eyed reality could not have been that old, if you know what I mean. She later clarified that they had met 4 years ago, but did not hook up for a couple more years. That's more like it. I'm such a cynic, I'm sure their show would have been quite different had it been 4 years. Still good I'm sure, but certainly different.

Made me think about the ephemeral nature of the musical arts. Live performance is such a product of the environment and current events for both performer and audience. It was a lovely little pinch of time, glad I took the opportunity to drive out here for it. I'm away from home typically 12 hours a day during the week, so I really enjoy being at home on the weekends, sometimes it's hard to get me out of here. Liv whines that I'm a hermit, so not true. It's just like I really like my house, and I rarely get to see it, especially during daylight hours. House concert is not normally my favorite kind of venue for live music, though it's certainly an interesting one. It's a little too close and sit-still for my taste. I like to feel a little freer to move around and schmooze and whatnot. You have to be quiet and sit still for those things, and if there's a little something about the performer or the performance that you find even mildly annoying, it can be an eternity. You are stuck there in plain eyesight of the player, so you feel obligated to stay engaged every minute, even if the performance is not delivering the constant engagement. This was no problem for these two, they gave a steady stream of interesting and pleasant music, very worthy of considered attention.


permalink posted by cat 8:23 AM

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