Sunday, November 28, 2010

Live Review: Pittsburgh

If you’re a twenty-something and grew up anything like I did, then you can sympathize with me in my musical misfortune. Central Pennsylvania isn’t exactly the most sought-after venue for concerts of any type aside from Contemporary Christian. And without the Internet until my college years, the only music of the day at the end of my fingertips amounted to “Magic Stick” by Lil’ Kim and 50 Cent or “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” by Kenny Chesney. None of which were exactly what I was looking for. You see, the music that I wanted more of was the music like “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and the Shondells that my Mom would gasp at when she heard on the radio. She was so excited because she (like me) couldn’t relate to anything else that was playing on the radio. So maybe I’m an old soul. I continued to listen to more Americana like Peter, Paul and Mary and Woody Guthrie. But after all of the time and emotion that I invested into others like Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Burl Ives, Bob Dylan, The Band and Malvina Reynolds, I began to miss out on being an actual part of that music.
Finally, more than just the radio was at my fingertips, now the Internet was available and that meant I could find other people my own age who were making music not quite like Dylan and Guthrie but in response to and influenced by them. Hallelujah! I’m not the only old soul! I’m not a total stiff! There are other people who don’t like rap and country back to back on the radio! This throw-back movement of barn-burning, floor-stomping and skilled string-playing music is exactly what I needed. It gave me a chance to participate at least a little in this day in age with the music that I loved as a child but never had the chance to do more than sing along to in the car with my Mom. It’s bands like The Felice Brothers that are my Dylan, my Band, my Joplin.

After reading about all of the amazing performances that the Brothers have put on (i.e., the acoustic show at Newport in the rain), I was ready for a night of letting the band take me away to their musical wonderland. A band can only take their audience to that special live, musical place if they are fully engaged. Aside from James Felice, I wasn’t sure if the rest of the band could even see us standing right in front of them. James, who is as burly as a bear but as graceful as a swan, was fully engaged with the audience, or maybe it just seemed like it because he was the only one making an effort.

Everyone has their off nights and hopefully this was theirs. It won’t keep me from checking out another one of their shows because even though they had no audience chemistry, they still displayed that they are talented beyond their years and their voices are just spot on with their studio recording. That’s respectable. I didn’t love their show but I’m thankful for having music today that is reminiscent of the greats, has heart and soul and that connects me in some way to the story of the music. Thanks, Felice Brothers because you’ve got all of that going on.