Sunday, August 3, 2008

First They Take Manhattan

Once upon a time, there was a Phoenecian queen of Israel named Jezebel, "who, in defiance of the customs and traditions of her day, did one thing while everyone else did another" (and was leveraged by Christians to further castigate pagan traditions...). So says Jezebel, a Williamsburg-based "online music publication for the new music fan. [Its] mission is to share intelligently written views of records, songs, standout artists, the music industry, online music culture, trends, and emerging technology."

Last week I went to the Jezebel singer-songwriter series, now called Resonance, which every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at Pianos (Ludlow between Stanton and Rivington), features four brave souls with their acoustic guitars and perhaps a band member or two, baring their lyrics and melodies to the room (I wish Jezebel had been there to kill the omnipresent talkers). The low-key vibe and small crowd recalled for me descriptions of John Prine being discovered by Kris Kristofferson in a little Chicago club in 1971, at the end of the night, while chairs were being put up on tables and floors swept.

Anyway, I heard Matt Jones, Drew and the Medicinal Pen (and, before I realized who he was, Drew borrowed my pen), and Jarred Farrell. The three performers had really different sounds, with Jones ("things get stranger, I get simpler") seeming to these ears more "classic" blues/folk with woody acoustic melodies and a many-layered voice, Drew ("the sky will still be there when the sun goes down") evoking more modern indy/folk with a big playful guitar, and Farrell (accompanied by a wooden box) melting into a kind of spoken word/beat cadence from time to to time, jazzy and sweet (I don't think the songs featured on his page sound the way he did on Wednesday, which I preferred).

From the ground floor of Pianos, where the main acts play, raucus and meaningless noise rose throughout the sessions, but rather than distracting from the quieter music above, it distilled the loveliness and served as a kind of defining backdrop for the battle of the simple and earnest against everything else.

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