Sunday, May 23, 2010

BLAME SALLY - Houseconcert Review - Bodie Houseconcerts at the Thousand Oaks Library - May 1, 2010

 Memory can be a funny thing, especially at my age. We had seen the group Blame Sally a couple of times back a few years ago, once at a houseconcert and once at a festival. I do remember liking them and that I found their instrumentation interesting, but, other than a general positive feeling towards them, I remembered little else. And, in what I always call the ultimate review, we hadn't bought any of their CDs at either event. So when this concert was announced somewhat late, since we had nothing else planned, we decided to go see them again, but with somewhat muted expectations. And now I feel VERY lucky making that choice, because, as I have suggested, either my memory of them was very faulty or this band has gotten WAY better in the last few years or maybe there is a combination of both at work!

 We arrived at the Thousand Oak Library for this concert very early because we were worried about traffic, with Conejo Valley Days going on right across the street. But we had no trouble getting there, so we were some of the first inside. We settled into some front row seats in front of the percussion set up because we remembered that the band had a very interesting percussionist and, with Becky studying hand percussion, we wanted a good view of both technique and equipment. The room quickly filled up behind us, not a sell-out but a real nice large crowd especially considering the somewhat short notice that this show was happening.

 The traditional opening announcements and introductions were done by our hostess, Renee Bodie and Library Director Steve Brogden. The band then took the stage and launched into their first number, "I'm Waiting", a haunting dark tune with a rolling rhythm and some great electric guitar licks by Jeri Jones that were very reminiscent of the playing of Mark Knopfler, which is a HUGE compliment in my book! My thought when it was over was that many groups would use a song this great as an encore, a real good sign for the rest of the show! The second song was a total change of pace and feel. "Trouble" was a uptempo rockabilly workout that featured a kick-ass guitar solo by Jeri.

 A pause is in order here to introduce the band a bit. Blame Sally are a quartet of female singer/songwriter/musicians from the Bay Area of California who have been playing together for at least a decade. They all are great singers. The bulk of the songwriting is done by Renee Harcourt or Monica Pasqual. Renee plays a whole variety of guitars along with bass, harmonica, banjo, mandolin, lap steel and lord knows what else. Monica plays a variety of keyboards and accordion and probably a lot of other instruments. They both are VERY accomplished, prolific songwriters and both have done multiple solo albums while still members of the group. Percussionist/guitarist Pam Delgado also contributes some great songs though she's not as prolific as Monica or Renee. Their latest CD includes two of Pam's songs, the rest are by either Renee or Monica. The final member of the band, Jeri Jones, plays guitars, mandolin, bass, and dobro and is quite adept at providing the songs with the sonic ornamentation that fully fleshes out their themes and meanings. Pam and Jeri also play sometimes as a duo, called "The Pam and Jeri Show". On this night, as well as the previous times we've seen them, the ladies were augmented by rock-solid 5 string bassist Rob Strom, who has what I consider one of the best sideman jobs in the music business! I will have more to say about each of them as this review progresses. ( above picture left - right, Monica, Jeri, Renee, Rob and Pam ).

 The set continued with one of Renee's songs, the very poignant "All Rise",  which she told us was written during and about her cancer treatment which I'm glad to report was successful. Its a really beautiful and moving song about confronting your fears of the unknown. And then came a new one, "Bird In Hand", a song of love gone wrong that had Pam playing her djembe drum with brushes and Jeri's rhythmic guitar figure reminding me of "Ghost Riders in the Sky"!Once more the mood and pace were changed, with Monica taking a solo turn with just her piano and beautiful voice for "I Knew You When"  written for a loved one dealing with Multiple Sclerosis. Then Renee and Jeri took the stage as a duo with Renee on acoustic guitar and Jeri on mandolin doing Renee's song, "Carnival Ride" which she wrote as a love song to her friends and family on the occasion of her 50th birthday. It was a bouncy happy ditty which was perfect for its sentiment.

 The whole band retook the stage with Monica playing accordion for the next tune, another of Renee's and one of my favorites, "Jump Start". With its driving, insistent rhythm as the perfect background, it delivered a wonderful description of the obsessive passion of new love,
                                " I stood out in left field watching
                                  You snuck up on me like a wildfire
                                  Sparks and flames flashing and flying
                                  And I felt the light inside jumpstart"
Another powerfully moving song came next, Monica's "Night of 1000 Stars", the story of a soldier returning from war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that drives him to domestic violence. This song is the title track to Blame Sally's latest album and its beautiful vocal melodies ran counter to the otherworldly sounds of Jeri's bottleneck guitar creating a dreamlike atmosphere. It was just one more example of the stunning subtlety of Jeri's understated guitar playing and, as we gave them an ovation as they left for intermission, I couldn't help but marvel at how GREAT this band had become or how flawed my memory of them was!

 Intermission brought the usual sugar-rush snacks, some socializing with our hosts and other friends in the audience and of course a CD purchase and signing. Trying to economize in the face of an unpaid furlough at work, before the show I was determined not to spend the money, but this band was just too good to let the opportunity pass! I was very anxious to hear what else they had in store for us.

 The band returned to the stage and began the second set with the straight-ahead folk-rocker "Fillmore Street". This song again made great use of Jeri's bottleneck guitar work and also Renee's harmonica solo, while playing on the similar lyrical sounds of  "Fillmore" and "feel more". The next song was probably my favorite Blame Sally song and seems to be one of the band's "signature" tunes. With a jangly mandolin rhythm and Monica's bouncy accordion, Renee's song "Pass the Buddha" gave a humorous peek at the New Age and Eastern therapies that the world threw in her direction during her cancer treatments. "Please, pass the Buddha,  a hit of Mr. B, open eye number three"  is just part of one of the coolest lyrics I've heard in ages! This was one song I had remembered from hearing the band previously! After that came a slow love ballad, "Same Space" and then a stripped down, slowed down cover of Aretha's "Chain of Fools", with Pam delivering the soulful lead vocals.  Another cover headed in a more country direction, Emmy Lou Harris and Rodney Crowell's "Tulsa Queen".

 The night was headed into the home stretch but there were still some gems in store for us. Monica's "Pajaro Sin Allas" had the sound of a traditional latin folk song. Then came Pam's tour de force from the latest album, "Hurricane", a bluesy rave-up comparing a woman's rising passion to an impending storm. Another major crowd-pleaser, it featured Jeri's bottleneck National Steel guitar and a great accordion solo from Monica. Then came the show closer, "Dead Horse", a haunting bluesy ballad of the love-gone-wrong variety that sounded like it was written by Renee ( I haven't been able to verify this ). It used a great bottleneck solo by Jeri to help it build in intensity as the finale. And, of course, the crowd was wild as the ladies left the stage! We all wanted more, and of course we were rewarded with an encore.

The band came back and played the traditional Mexican folk song, "La Llorona", which sounded very different than the song we've heard Perla Batalla sing many times. But it was also  a great tune and we got a chance at one last great piano solo by Monica and I got to hear one last tasty guitar solo by Jeri, who impressed me all night with the talent and taste in her understated playing. It was a  really pleasing end to an exciting night of really great songs and musicianship and we were very glad to have been there to experience it!
So here's one last try at my question.  As I finally finish this review, I've had the benefit of a few weeks to ponder some of this. Had I really forgotten how great this band was? Had they really made great improvements in a few years? I'll probably never totally figure it out, but one thing seems relevant. Most of the songs we heard on this night were songs we had previously heard a few years earlier. Clearly their material has  been this good for a while! So while I allow that their playing of these songs may have improved some in the ensuing years, I personally think that I previously was just not in the right space to totally get them or had forgotten how GREAT they really were. And of course none of this really matters, the important thing is that I am now a huge Blame Sally fan and I hope you will soon be one, too!

Here's a link for Blame Sally :

and one for the Bodie Houseconcerts :

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Incendio - Russ and Julie's House Concerts -April 24, 2010

Being quite a fan of world music, I have seen many Latin guitar instrumental groups. I find I tend to either really like them a lot or  really dislike them a lot. Because I play guitar myself, I'm generally predisposed to enjoying these sorts of groups but I  have heard many that I find bland, unexciting and self-indulgent. I'd compare it to how I feel about most "Smooth Jazz", pleasant in the short-term, but with no edge, passion or real emotion being conveyed. The lack of vocals also can contribute to this coldness. There may be some excellent playing, but if there's no emotional connection, there's no point to it all. So when I heard that the group "Incendio"  was a replacement booking at Russ and Julie's House Concerts, and that they played "World Fusion Guitar", I wasn't sure what to think. But because Becky likes this kind of music even more than I do and because Russ and Julie's glowing recommendation is something I know I always can trust, I decided we should go check out "Incendio". What a good move!

So we arrived at the concert just as the doors opened, with our treats in hand for the potluck appetizer/dessert table as always. The room was already almost full but we found a couple of pretty good seats, greeted our hosts and nibbled a bit. The crowd seemed to skew even older than usual, hardly anyone looked under 40. "Incendio" took the stage. I later found out that the band sometimes plays with a drummer and a percussionist, but in this intimate setting they consisted of the core trio, acoustic guitarists Jim Stubblefield and JP Durand and 5 string electric bassist Liza Carbe, who also played classical acoustic guitar on several songs. As the band launched into its first number a couple of things were immediately apparent. These guys could really play and their sound was anything but stereotypical Latin guitar noodling. And, while the other players were excellent, JP Durand seemed to be the "straw that stirs the drink", so to speak.

The opening numbers were inspired by visits to Barcelona and Edinborough. The Barcelona song, whose name I never heard, was Latin-sounding as you might expect but featured a guitar solo by JP where his guitar sounded just like a piano. Now that by itself is hardly noteworthy, these days junior high kids can afford the gizmos that make this possible. But never have I heard a guitar player adjust his technique to the extent that the attack and decay, and the voicings all sounded like a piano would. Its hard for me to convey just how difficult what he did was! The Edinborough inspired song, "St. Margaret's Tears", was more Celtic in flavor and the next tune, "Illumination", written by Jim, was Middle Eastern sounding and had a solo by JP that this time recreated the sound of an organ.

The set continued with Liza putting down her bass and playing a classical acoustic guitar on a couple of numbers. First a Peruvian waltz, whose different meter was a change of pace and then "Lightdancer", a bouncy, jazzy song. From there we were treated to a very classical medieval sounding piece that was very contrapuntal and whose name I missed. The band closed the set with a Venezuelan inspired "Malaga Sunset" which was quiet and very pretty and then "Rhythm of the Heart" which reminded me of the California Guitar Trio, a favorite act of ours and a wonderful band to be compared to.

Well here we were at intermission, and we had already "travelled the world" while sitting in Russ and Julie's living room! And intermission at Russ and Julie's means eating as much chocolate as our consciences would allow and mingling with some very friendly people. It can be almost as much fun as the music and we made the most of it!

The second set began with another light bouncy tune, "Rambla Pacifica", which featured some very syncopated riffs. The next tune,a tango whose name I also never caught, featured an "accordion" sound on JP's first solo, an impressive bass solo by Lisa, and then another "piano" sounding solo that was very tasty. Lisa again made the switch from bass to classical acoustic guitar for the next tune, another slow beautiful waltz called "Haunted".

The night was beginning to wind down but we still had some musical "traveling" in store for us, first "One Night in Monaco" for more of the European taste followed by the classical-sounding "Espiritu". Lisa then moved back to bass for the closing "Temple of the Sun", a samba that featured an excellent jazzy "piano" sounding solo from JP and the only sound effect that I thought didn't really work well, a "steel drum" sound that was a little bit hokey-sounding. But that was only a minor "bump in the road" in a night of amazing guitar work with a real variety of sound and flavors from around the world. The crowd loved it all, responding with a standing ovation. And I ended up going home that night VERY glad I had chosen to see "Incendio" and chalked up another great success to Russ and Julie. These folks never let us down!

Here's a link for "Incendio":

Earthmother's Day - Perla Batalla - Grand Annex, San Pedro,CA - May 8, 2010

 So at the risk of being branded the aging hippie that I actually am, I am declaring a new holiday! The day before Mother's Day every year will hereby be known as Earthmother's Day! To find out why just keep reading.

Last night we had the real pleasure of seeing one of our most favorite performers, Perla Batalla, and her band, at the Grand Annex, adjacent to the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, CA. Well it wasn't a houseconcert, but it was in a houseconcert-sized venue, cost a houseconcert-type price and really was very much like a houseconcert in intimate atmosphere, so I felt I could include a review on my blog without really changing my focus. I have been waiting a long time for a chance to include Perla with the acts I have reviewed here, so I will jump at the chance!

 We had planned weeks ago to drive to Culver City to see some other favorite performers, John Batdorf and James Lee Stanley performing together on this night. But when Perla's  show was announced a couple of weeks ago (or at least when I heard about it), we decided to change plans. This was no slight to John, who we get to see quite often, or James, who we at least see regularly, but we don't get that many chances to see Perla live. And I am still trying to get over the fact that she had to cancel her UCLA Valentine's show while recovering from a bout of pneumonia from which, I'm happy to say, she has made a complete recovery.  We had second row center seats to that show that never happened! I figured a Perla show would be a perfect Mother's Day gift for Becky. So we decided the drive of at least an hour and half each way to San Pedro and back and the change in plans were minor obstacles at most. And because the show was only $15 per ticket if bought in advance, it was doable financially in these tough times. And, because those very reasonable tickets were for general admission seating, I made sure we were there nice and early to get good seats in a venue I had never been to before. And wouldn't you know it, we snagged seats in the second row, right in the center! Funny watching karma in action, especially if its your own good karma!

A quick word about the venue. The Grand Annex is a storefront several doors down from the Warner Grand Theatre which I gather is an old movie palace theatre in downtown San Pedro that has an on-going restoration in process. I have never been inside that theatre. This concert was part of the Annex's Latin music series which is done as fund-raising for the foundation that is making the restoration happen. The Annex space is pretty small and unassuming, with a riser-type stage, adequately large, but not roomy, and about 70 to 80 folding chairs arranged in rows in front for the audience. The seats were arranged tightly and were uncomfortable at first but there was plenty of space in the room to spread them a bit and with time that's what everyone did. The lights and the sound system appeared to me to be what I'd call semi-pro, but experience told me Perla would soon make them irrelevant anyways. The room soon filled to at least near-capacity and there was an air of expectation in the crowd. Perla fans tend to be very loyal and I'm sure the room contained few if any casual or first-time fans.

After the perfunctory opening announcements and introduction, Perla and her band took the stage. We were thrilled to see she had the rhythm section we have seen with her most, who have played with her, off and on for many years. This excellent band consisted of drummer/percussionist/vocalist Debra Dobkin, bassist Mike Velasquez and pianist/vocalist Karen Hammack.  I will have  more to say about all of these great musicians later! The first tune began with Debra playing a near-military roll with brushes on her snare and then Perla's gorgeous a capella voice launching into the very spiritual Leonard Cohen anthem, "If It Be Your Will".  For those who are unfamiliar with Perla, she toured as a backup singer with the legendary poet/songwriter/singer for many years and has recorded a CD of her interpretations of his songs. She has an obvious special connection to the man and his songs and I always find them extremely inspirational.  And this night would be no exception!  For many singers this song and its rendition would be material  for a climatic encore, but Perla was just using it to get warm!

Up next was the infectious bouncy rhythm of "Moliendo Cafe" whose Spanish lyrics are about "grinding coffee", which I've always taken as a double entendre but with my feeble Spanish skills, I may be mistaken. Nevertheless, its a great tune that this band really has a feel for and Karen's piano chops, always outstanding, kept it swinging. At this point the band was joined by Claud Mann on congas, who not only is a great musician and a fellow chef, but happens to be Perla's husband of many years. He often augments the band, particularly on the more rhythmic Latin numbers and the next song, "Mas y Mas", certainly fell into that category, with the band sizzling once more.

After that was a change of pace song, beginning with Perla telling us about "La Llarona", the Mexican version of The Bogeyman, used to scare young children into obedience. Perla's haunting vocals emphasized her interpretation of the legend as more of a mystical/spiritual story than a horror story, with her singing "the meek... will reach for the stars and inherit the earth". A very interesting percussive arrangement had Claud playing congas, Perla tapping a rhythm on a musical gourd, and Debra, having covered her share with an "outboard" conga type head, playing her drum kit with her hands!

The standard introduction to the next song always makes me smile, no matter how many times I've heard it. It was particularly meaningful on this Mother's Day Eve. Perla says that we all think our children are the most special things on earth....... but hers really is. Before you write that off as hyperbole, I happen to know she's right! I've had occasion to meet her daughter Eva several times as she's grown up and I've always been quite impressed with her ability to converse with adults she's just met. She's obviously mature beyond her years and I hear she's quite a student.  This led into one of my favorite Perla songs, written with guitarist David Batteau, called "Holy Roses", a musical tribute to Perla's pregnancy and Eva's birth and early childhood. It is quite poingnant lyrically and beautiful musically. It's obviously a special song for Perla and her vocal delivery was soulful and full of personality, a signature song and performance!

Our next treat was Perla's special surprise guest, jazz vocalist Melanie Jackson. In one of the most generous and courageous acts a singer could make, Perla left the stage and turned it and her band over to her friend Melanie, who was obviously touched by the gesture. Melanie did a stunning jazz take on "Somewhere Over The Rainbow", taking a somewhat tired standard and turning it back into the transcendant number it must have once originally been. Karen played a great jazzy solo on piano and by the final verse Melanie had left the original melody so far behind that the song had a whole different feel. Not many singers on this earth  other than Perla would have the self-confidence and generosity to leave the stage in the middle of her act and let a vocalist of such considerable talent take over!

And then came a song which featured an impressive solo introduction on bass by Mike Velasquez. He displayed great technique in a style called "popping", using the right or "plucking" hand to rhythmically strike the strings percussively while fingering notes with the left, a common technique of funk and soul bassists. He then switched to a "tapping" technique I have never seen a bassist use. He used his right or plucking hand to instead finger frets in a tapping motion making them sound while tapping and sounding with his left hand also.  Its something many six string electric and acoustic guitarists have been using in the past decade or so but he is the first I've seen use it on a bass. These "tricks" created a very inventive rhythmic intro to "El Cascabel", a song with a haunting rhythm and a fun audience participation singalong ending.

Another signature tune for Perla came next, the oft-requested traditional Mexican tear-inducer "Cucurrucucu Paloma". This was a perfect example of  Perla's amazing talent and her ability to make a song her own.  As sung by many, this song can be the type of over-the-top sentimental fluff that would make me cringe, but Perla has an uncanny ability to get "inside" a song emotionally and then convey that to the audience. It always feels "real", never like an actress playing a role. Its difficult to figure out how exactly she does this, much less describe it, but there is definitely magic at work!

I could call each of the remaining songs "one of my favorites" because I guess I have a lot of them! The show "closer" was "Gracias a la Vida", a song made popular by Mercedes Sosa, but rapidly its becoming owned by Perla.  This song features the band at its best, Mike's driving bass line popping with Debra's percussion to create the foundation, Karen's syncopated chords and fills giving it shape and substance and of course Perla's vocals making it soar! Its a totally joyous song of thanks and the band obviously has a blast playing it and the audience gave their own thanks by joyously demanding an encore. And they were rewarded with a pair of Leonard Cohen classics. First was by request, "Dance Me to the End of Love" a beautiful love song that begins soft and with a tango-like rhythm and builds into an almost klezmer Eastern European-sounding singalong. Perla has written a beautiful, poetic Spanish translation that she traded-off with the English verses increasing the exotic flavors of this great song.Then came the spiritual plea for redemption, "Bird On The Wire", one of the most loved songs from the Cohen canon as well as one of the most covered.  It was another great example of Perla inhabitting a song fully and extracting every last emotional nuance from it. The night concluded with Perla and Melanie leading the audience on a singalong of the classic "Guantanamera". A thoroughly delightful ending to great evening of world-class music!

So this wonderful night left me remaining with one question nagging at me. What is it that makes Perla such a great singer? Well sure, she hits all the notes with great range and power, but to me that's expected from a professional singer. Her talent runs much deeper than that but its difficult to pin down the particulars. As I've mentioned previously, I have never encountered another singer who is so able to totally get inside of a song emotionally and convey that to an audience. Part of that is choice of material, she has a great wealth of originals and covers that are obviously very dear to her, many of which she has been doing for years. But the most amazing ability she has as a performer is how open she is with an audience, how much of herself she shares with a roomful of relative strangers, including her personal and family life. There is an integrity and realness that is very very rare in performers and this totally comes through to an audience. Many performers can make you leave their show in a better mood than when you came in. Perla makes you feel like  you leave as a better person! And that incredible ability is the best definition of an Earthmother I could ever come up with. Happy Earthmother's Day everyone!

Here's a link to Perla's website:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Caroline Aiken - Bodie House Concert - October 30, 2009

It never ceases to amaze me that, seemingly with every passing week, I can be presented with  a "new" artist that is making incredible music that I had not previously discovered. When it's someone who has been making great music for decades, its all the more surprising they could have escaped my notice. And its one of my great joys to live where we do and have access to presenters like Renee Bodie and Russ and Julie Paris who we can always count on to bring in acts that, while they may be new to us, are consistently not only professional performers but ones with a unique point of view and voice. In other words interesting people who just happen to use music as their means of communicating with the world.
On this pre-Halloween eve at the Bodie House Concerts at The Thousand Oaks Library, Renee Bodie introduced her audience to Caroline Aiken, who, along with being an accomplished singer/songwriter/guitarist, just happens to be a long-time friend of hers. It seems one summer long ago they were maids together in Yosemite or something like that. I'm thankful of any connection that brought Caroline to my attention because, as I'll try to describe, she rocks!
The crowd was arriving late and still dribbling in as Caroline introduced her friend and opener whose name, I believe was Dave Mesnik (don't quote me on the name or spelling, I can't verify it). He did a short set of three pleasant if unremarkable tunes. Then Caroline took the stage and immediately the energy level in the room rose, and I noticed that the smallish-seeming audience had swelled to nearly packed. Caroline started off playing acoustic 6 string guitar which she had capo'd up real high on the neck, making her guitar sound a bit mandolin-like. Her first song, "Spirit Of Love" featured her rhythmic strumming on guitar and bluesy vocal delivery and instantly reminded me of an old favorite of mine from back east, back in the day, Ellen McIlwaine, which in my mind is VERY high praise!
As her set continued, Caroline switched to 12 string guitar which she played bottleneck style. The blues song, which she described as a true story and whose name I didn't catch, was about a street-scholar/handicrafter named Copper John. It  really showed off her vocal chops and guitar playing while at the same time painting a moving portrait of human dignity in the face of misfortune. This led to an instrumental tour-de-force, another tune I can't name for you, but I can tell you it was very much in the spirit, style and level of vituosity of Leo Kotke, who we have also seen in recent weeks. I was mighty impressed and the show was just starting.
A move to the piano brought "Hello Cruel World", with Caroline sounding very jazzy and that song morphed into a killer rendition of one of my all-time favorite Elton John songs, "Madman Across The Water".
Caroline's voice was perfect for this dark-sounding tune and the audience seemed to be spellbound. She then showed off her considerable piano chops with an instrumental tune ,"Mad Michael", that started off sounding classical, and in turn became show-tunish, then folky, then a prog-rock style opus. To close the first set, she kept up the momentum she had generated with "Day By Day" an up-tempo rhythmic rocker that sounded like it could have been a hit by Heart. Wow! That was an opening set that covered a lot of musical ground  at a high energy level.
Intermission involved the usual rituals involving chocolate  and coffee and chocolate and mingling and more chocolate. It was the night before Halloween and chocolate was EVERYWHERE! I somehow managed to find time to buy a CD and chat a second with Caroline, who was very graciously flattered when I asked if she was influenced by Ellen McIlwaine. Further intermission entertainment was provided by the costumes some were wearing and there was even a quick costume contest before the second set. Even Caroline had brought a witch's hat! All that was left was to grab some chocolate and go in for the second set.
Caroline had done such a high energy opening set, but the rest of the night was just as strong. There were many highlights, not the least of which was a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Coyote". In our household no one is revered more than Joni and while we love to hear her covered, we can be critical of those who reach beyond their abilities but Caroline absolutely nailed a version that I know would do Joni proud. I also loved  "Hotel At Highway One", its countryish feel giving that powerful sense of place and time. And then in "Mission of Angels", Caroline sang of relationship going south in one of the BIGGEST voices I've heard in a while, and I'm talking Janis Joplin big. For a change of musical pace and a tribute to her home , on St Simon's Island in Georgia, she did an a capella gospel singalong on the old field song "Turtledove".
Caroline finished the night with a great tribute to the power of the guitar, "My There For Me Guitar" a sentiment every guitarist has felt, no one understands me like my guitar! Of course there was an encore that really stood out with "Ground Zero" a beautifully positive statement of politics and religion. It was a remarkable evening of music, by a performer whose excellent songwriting is equalled by her powerful vocals and vituosic musicianship. And it was another reminder of how many amazing musicians are out there and how great it feels to discover one of them for the first time!

A link for Caroline Aiken:

and one for Bodie House Concerts: