Thursday, September 18, 2003
Lori Kelley and Cletus Kennelly, Cerulean Grove and Bailey Jester at Cellar Stage, September 12, 2003

The opening show for the Fall 2003 season begins with a trio of three different acts as a benefit for the series. The big season opening is next week with John Gorka.

I particularly want to see, as always Lori and Cletus. We bring a couple who are active in Marriage Encounter, and I want them to hear Lori’s relationship song, Sea Glass.

This church basement is dry and comfortable tonight with rows of chairs with names on their back reflecting names chosen by chair donors. The church volunteer sell gooey chocolate desserts that are tempting as always and things appear quite normal. However, Joyce and Kate tell us the story of the last concert last spring before the summer break. Spring floods drove first insects and then water onto the basement floor; the dedicated volunteers kept trying to adjust to the situation and move stuff around. But as the increasingly flows of water approached the sound system, volunteers, concert goers, performers – everyone - pitched in and moved the concert to the sanctuary upstairs.

Tonight, first up though is Cerulean Grove, a trio centered around the voice, percussion and songwriting of Laura Cerulli, with Larry Joseloff on bass and Scott Reiber on guitar. These are some musicians, especially Laura Cerulli. We first saw this group open for Tom Prasada-Rao (TPR) at Baldwin’s Station. TPR and Laura Cerulli seemed to have never met before, but Tom invited Laura to sit in on his set and totally trusted her to add just the right percussion backup to his songs. Watching them together was magical. She totally understood and supported TPR’s music, and she has appeared since as his “band”. This woman can make music! Her voice is another instrument in her band. I don’t know how to describe their music, but their web site says it is an artful blend of rock, blues, jazz, folk and groove”. It is jazzy. Years ago I would have thought of this as good lounge music in a fancy bar (do such places still exist?) Their songs include:
Drive Me Under
Charmed – the percussion does not overwhelm the vocals, and Laura has a lovely out there voice.
She – part of their reggae phase
Possibilities – about a blind date with a happy ending
Sinking – about long distance relationships
Second Thoughts – based on true story of a tragic death and thoughts about the prevalence of violence

Bailey Jester – their name looks familiar because they are on the Moore Music in the House schedule for November 22, 2003. Scott’s site says they are a “Georgia duo -- brothers Matt Jordan and Young Stryker -- that weaves folk, bluegrass, rock
and country into an instantly likeable roots sound”. They tell us tonight that they are really half brothers (they have the same Mom). This is their first time in Baltimore.
Their songs include:
Slow Water
Hard Rollin Home
Music Box – story inspired by the Twilight Zone. So realistic, one fan said, I don’t remember that episode.
Floating on the river in the sun (what their Dad will do when he retires)
Candice Stone (another creepy song)
She’s Two of a Kind (my husband and maybe other men in the audience were roaring at this song about how the sweetest woman can seem sometime to have an evil twin.)
Above the Misery Line (a request – and a song that won a best roots song of 2002 award)
Traveling Show - “you treat love like a traveling show”

When they sang the creepy song Music Box I kept staring at the big box on the table by them, but it was only the box holding many harmonicas, which they play along with the tall bass and the guitar. I love the harmonica sound. My husband, who rarely buys CD’s, rushed to buy the two available. Scott was right about the instantly likeable roots sound – at least for people who like my husband, who grooves on both country and singer-songwriter music, and who can get also get turned on by bluegrass.

Our favorites, Lori Kelley and Cletus Kennelly, are on last. See my previous articles on this dazzling duo (postings 8-3-03 and 8-20. They only have 1/3 of the show tonight so we only hear a smattering of their incredible songs.

Cletus Gunshy Girl – about that period after a breakup where you don’t want to date.

LoriIt Was a Great Day – NOT! Not when you can’t do what you want to do because of what you have to do.

Cletus Christopher – in this song, even as a child Christopher Columbus is a ‘burglar” and bully who says “looks at what I found” and steals my bike

Lori – Snow is Falling about PFC Lori Piestewa the first Native American servicewoman to die in combat in the Iraqui war

Cletus – Looking Up; Three Days in September - about the day before, 9-11, and the day after

Lori – Four Windows

Cletus – Leavings - Cletus took advise from a friend who is a poet who told him to look up the title in the dictionary. This song has wonderful word-plays exploring meanings in leaving and leaves

Lori – Sea Glass (my friends do like this song. Really who wouldn’t!)

Cletus – Jessie Knows - what a line in love with "the one who holds the flame"

Lori – I Want More Than Enough - life can be more than circumstances seem to offer

Duet – Cletus wrote a duel for them Open Now the Gate – about a blind soldier returning from the Civil War not sure whether he is a worthy husband now that he’s been wounded and her response “I can see the light that is you”.

More more! But we’ve had 3 acts tonight. More must be later. Check out Cletus’s MP3's on this site and Lori’s July appearance at the Millennium Stage

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