Friday, July 08, 2005

From Brother Don in SF...

"just got back from laura cantrell's show at cafe du nord. good crowd.
she had 3 backup players...mandolin, stand up bass, acoustic guitar. no drums. no amps. everyone went thru the p.a. she played a gorgeous old gibson southern jumbo. casually dressed, as was her band.
she was very warmly received...she said she hadn't played here before which surprised me. what didn't surprise me-- after seeing her last summer in scotland-- is what a good show she put on. she did a lot from her new album - which is probably her best yet. in a way it's good she hasn't been here before because there's a certain confidence now in her voice that i wasn't hearing on her earlier albums. the songs from the new record-- only out 2 weeks now -- went over as big as the old ones. she gave little spoken intros to each song... for instance, explaining that "14th street" was about new york's but "you probably have a 14th street here". to which someone shouted, "it's a block away!". a great great great song it is but it sounded more like a demo (without the benefit of her overdubbed vocals) in a live setting. charming nonetheless. speaking of about southern charm...
glad to see all her yrs in nyc haven't made a dent in that tennessee disposition.
one good song after another... new ones like "khaki and corduroy", "california rose" and old faves like "not the tremblin' kind", "two seconds" (my fave), and "queen of the coast". she also did that song lucinda williams wrote but never cut. whatever that one is. killer. encore included "yonder comes a freight train" (my friend said, "everyone has to have a train song, i'm glad she does too"). all thru her set people were yelling for amy allison's "the whisky makes you sweeter" and she finally did it at the end of the night. as her bandmates started to pack it in, she kept them on to honor one more request, "the early years".
really fine performance. the stand-up bass sounded wonderful. that guy also played an ancient harmony hollow body bass (which laura said was borrowed) on a few songs. the mandolin player got more than one round of applause mid-song for some tremendous solos. and her guitarist, altho grouching constantly about the monitor sound, really kept the whole thing together nicely. he reminded me of gillian welch's david rawlings but without the sour notes.
very successful gig. hope we don't have to wait another 5 years or go all the way to scotland to see her again!"