maandag 26 oktober 2015

Betty Soo, Amanda Pearcy, The Small Glories, Saturday 24 October 2015. De Oude School, Warmond

Photo: Wo.
It's been awhile that I've seen it, that fabulous spaghetti western with Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef and Eli Wallach: 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In De Oude School I saw something similar play when three acts took to the stage under the name Continental Roadshow 2: the Beauty, the Hardship and the Storm. That's the best way to describe them. My first visit to Hans van Polanen's new venue in Warmond called De Oude School (The Old School), a late19th century building which is just that, the old village school, was extremely pleasant.

Photo: Wo.
The room filled fairly well and so a lady from south-east Asian decent took the stage, accompanied by a gentleman behind a snare drum and electronic bass drum. Within a few lines it became clear that total disarming beauty was standing in front of us. A voice so clear and soft that she quieted everyone and everything. Even the refrigerators stopped humming during her songs. Betty Soo writes her own songs, but also excels in interpretations of songs from Texan singer-songwriters of old. Townes van Zandt, Butch Hancock, to name two. To me all songs were new, so if she hadn't said, I would not have noticed. What I did notice though, is the beauty of Betty Soo's voice. Her voice moves heart strings and if necessary can bring tears to anyone's eyes. Her guitar playing can be in an extremely delicate fingerpicking style, with only an accent here or there. It tells it all no matter how soft, with a song called 'Last Night' hovering above all else. Over this playing she sings with an angelic voice. A beautiful opening of the evening. She ended her set with a love song she wrote for her percussion playing husband David Terry, who in return dutifully carried the stuff to the car at the end of the show.

Photo: Wo.
People who follow this blog will not be surprised that I had come to listen to Amanda Pearcy. Her albums have been reviewed, a previous show was and an interview can be found on this blog. With a fabulous new album, 'An Offering', in her bag, Amanda toured the low countries for over a week and luckily also close to my hometown. Together with her lead guitarist Cole Hanson, she played several songs from her previous album 'Royal Street' and from her new one. If looked at from a technical point of view, Amanda Pearcy has the least baggage musically of the three artists, but brings something else: her soul. She has lived and that shows in her songs and stories. Stories told to introduce a song come alive in her songs. Listening to the inspiration for 'Comfort the Soul of a Man' makes those present understand from how deep this song comes and how close to her heart and mind this song must be. Hence the Hardship.

By the way, we didn't just listen to any singer this evening, but to a singer with the current #1 album in the EuroAmericana list of October, by a landslide of votes. 'An Offering' is an outstanding album that deserves this position, in my opinion. Amanda Pearcy translated these songs to the stage with economical tight guitar strumming and the reverb and delay laden lead notes and solos played by Cole Hanson. Her voice does the rest. The southern drawl that sometimes is lain on a bit thicker, gives the songs this little extra authenticity. It's time to raise the bar.

Photo: Wo.
The evening was built up just right. The Small Glories from Winnepeg in Canada whipped up a veritable storm in Warmond. Great playing, great singing, loud footstompin' and harmonies to die for. This new duo was playing our country for the first time and did everything right. Cara Luft and JD Edwards have found each other or more precisely each other's voices. The music they play together is drenched in English folk of the 60s and 70s, although the folk that was played in the coffee houses of the U.S. in the first half of the 60s definitely sounds through as well. Recently I wrote that Natalie Ramsay and Tim Claridge of Hymalayan have the Slick-Balin factor, well, I've found another Canadian duo that has just that. Luft and Edwards' harmonies reach into the highest registers, then take that little extra step and to leave me in awe a few times. Their proficiency on their instruments, including a great sounding banjo, is telling and the enthusiasm is totally catching. And then I'm leaving out the fantastic guitar playing by Clara Luft in a Jimmy Page folk riffing way (and Bert Jansch's) in 'Black Waterside' What a song. Expect more on The Small Glories here soon.

Photo: Wo.
Everyone came back for 'Ode to Billie Joe', the cover of Bobbie Gentry's hitsingle on Amanda Pearcy's album 'An Offering'. All of a sudden there was an accordion on stage (Betty Soo). A beautiful ending to a special evening. The Beauty, the Hardship and the Storm could play together as well. With this long tale of Billie Joe jumping of a bridge, the mood was brought down just enough that would allow us all to fall asleep later that night after all that excitement of The Small Glories.

Wo.

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