Sunday, August 14, 2005
Erik Balkey and the Malvinas at the Panzer House Concert, 8-13-05
Since doors open at the Panzers at 6:30pm for the 7 pm. show, we walk in at 6:30 to reserve good seats. Erik Balkey greets us with "I thought I'd see you guys here". I forget to tell Erik how much I love his Songwriter's Tour Guide, like a super songwriter blog.
We meet friends who are going to Kerrville's September concert. Oh they'll get to see Erik Balkey there.
The Kerrville site says Erik was a 2005 Kerrville New Folk Winner. Steve probably mentions this when he introduces Erik but I must not be paying attention. Of course this is only the most recent of many awards Erik's won.
Erik's soft opening hushes the last minute drink clatter in the kitchen as he begins with: Someone to Call (before I go to bed)
Erik assures us (and Mom) that he write fictional songs. Unlike the character in Someone to Call he does not have a 3 year old child. But he implies that the next song about lost love may have some truth
Like Billy the Kid - the love thief
Then he takes us to an even darker side of town, with a new song about learning those things you couldn't learn anywhere else, At the: Carnival of the Church of the Sacred Heart - where there is gambling, all kinds of mischief and romance.
"I Love…The Place that I Call Home, I love my country …but don't send my brother into war…God bless my country, mercy on me" - yes, Erik, Mercy…
God's Poet Now - Erik dedicates this song to the subject of the song, Dave Carter, a mystical magical poet singer who rose meteorically in the folk world and then tragically died of a heart attack at age 49 in 2002, and also to the incredibly beautiful and lyrical Rachel Bissex who died of breast cancer 2-20-05. Erik mentioned the Rachel Bissex Tribute CD (which some of us in the audience already have) and which is available here.
Steve and Sherry give a copy of the Rachel Bissex Tribute CD to the 2 audience members whose birthdays are closest to the date of this concert. There is a tie and both win!
I saw last saw Erik July 8th at the West Side Café where he played the whole show. He has so many more great songs to sing; this opening set are just a few to whet my taste for more. Luckily he is going to be sole performer at the Dawson's House concert in Silver Spring Md on 11-5-05. I must email Gene soon at: dawsonconcerts at aol.com - to make a reservation.
Next up are the Panzer's feature act, The Malvinas. Steve Key has already blogged about how great they were at the show at Shella's last Thursday night.- a show I missed. See his 8-11-05 posting here.
But I already know from last night in Takoma Park that I adore Gina Forsythe's mean New Orleans fiddle. What blows me away this evening is the combination of Gina's fiddle, Beth Cahill's mandolin and Lisa Markley's guitar. I don't care if Beth says the mandolin doesn't stay in tune and that Lisa's banjo got left behind on this tour (though it is even harder to tune.) This is some rousing musical trio. With an attitude. As they say "angst rocks".
Ordinary Blues - "I'm average but I got cool shoes"
My Name is (Mud) … " I am in love"
They sing of the goddess and Catholic saints. St. Anthony of the Lost and Found - this songs transports!
Then they explain that Eve was framed in Eve Takes the Fall.
More love angst in "He Never Loved Me"
"If this is the Worst that Can Happen" - about another couple breaking up
Perihelic Opposition of Mars - about closeness and distance and longing, inspired by reflection on the proximity of planets
Sweet and Sunny South - home of the Dukes of Hazard and other characters
My partner murmurs, that guitar has only 4 strings. A few minutes later they explain. The guitar is a 1965 Gibson tenor guitar and it is only supposed to have 4 strings, it is not missing strings. It is the kind used by the Kingston Trio , and it is tuned in fifths (like the fiddle)
Sister Mary Lou - "good-by heart"
Waltz of the Rear View Mirror - listening to this I feel hypnotized - I love Beth's sparkling eyes.
"I crossed the ocean once or twice"
Eastward Bound - gorgeous gorgeous lyrics inspired by the fall of the space shuttle over Texas… how is it that I feel beauty, sharp painful beauty in their glorious deaths - "you can wrap me in wind and fire and still I'm not coming down'
What's Wrong with Trying - another life affirming "holding on tight" song
And more talk this night about their inspiration Malvina Reynolds. I find tonight she also wrote "God bless the Grass". The lyrics on the web show this song is about grass growing through concrete, and include the analogy between grass and truth - "God bless the truth That fights towards the sun". And Malvina inspires us all as we age since she started playing the guitar at 60.
The Malvinas play a short set at the West Side Café in Frederick on Sunday night, 8-14-05. Alexandria, Takoma Park, Columbia and Frederick - 4 nights in a row in this area!
I regret I won't make it to Frederick on Sunday. I only caught 2 shows this time; next time can I make it 3?
And why didn't the Malvinas mention Lisa Markley and the Malvinas are featured in Subaru's Drive Magazine. I get this magazine! Great article!
Gina Forsyth and Emma's Revolution at Takoma Park House Concert, 8-12-05
The Malvinas, who are they? My partner asks. Have we ever heard them?
No but they are coming to the Panzers House Concert, and we always love folks who play there. Plus Erik Balkey who we adore is opening. So we make a reservation to go Saturday night, August 13.
However I get an email that Emma's Revolution will be at a Takoma Park house concert on Friday night 8-12-05, with Gina Forsyth (one of the Malvinas). I go alone because my partner is just a tad too conservative. I however adore the duo Emma's Revolution, Pat Humphries and Sandy O. I wear their purple PEACE tee shirt that has short sleeves even though I know a sleeveless shirt may be cooler this REALLY hot August evening.
I enter a half hour early. I am the first guest in the Takoma Park home. The host greets me casually. These folks apparently have house concerts but they just don't know about the "house concert rules", the sacred traditions from Columbia, Rockville and some other area house concerts. They don't have a "doors open" time. If the concert starts at 8 then it starts at 8. Reservation lists? Neighbors wander in around 8 and the more the merrier. I bring candy to contribute but bringing food isn't big here - the hosts provide healthy stuff like hummus and also great home made brownies.
I see there are chairs on the periphery of the large rooms. Will they set up rows in the middle? I see I am asking another puzzling question. No, not rows of chairs. There are thick mats on the floor like those used in gym for tumbling when I was in school. These are unfolded and the kids and many limber adults sit on the floor. The host's painting are on most of the walls. Except for the wall in the middle hallway which is lined with incredible photos of many generations of family. The furniture is boxy shaped heavy dark wood. Beautiful house with great vibes.
I see the Focus Alexandria venue manager and his wife from Alexandria. They saw the Malvinas last night at Stella's (one of Steve Key's venues); I suspect though that they are here because I know they are ardent Emma's Revolution fans. However, I haven't heard the Malvinas yet.
The large adjoining rooms fill up, I think mostly with Takoma Park neigbhors, and the concert begins. When I don't know the title of a song I write down the opening line(s).
Gina Forsyth starts with an angst ridden love song, "I Crossed the Ocean once or twice…missing you" - backed up by Emma's Revolution (ER)
Gina tells us she's from LA (Lower Alabama) and now lives in New Orleans and sings "Sweet and Sunny South"
"You are Here"
She always wanted towrite a Cajun song, but when she wrote one it was about Texas - "I'm standing on a hilltop neath a Texas sky"
Then Emma's Revolution takes center stage. This is their home town audience and the love in the room for them is palpable.
Bound For Freedom is a rousing start!
Sandy O's, If They Could Count (who counts, can we count?)
Then written post 9/11 for the many undocumented World Trade Center workers killed who may not have been recorded in the names of victims, If I Give Your Name
Swimming to the Other Side (this room knows these words and sings along enthusiastically) - Read about this amazing song by clicking here.
Asked are you just preaching to the choir, will your words change anything, ER wrote the rousing song to energize the choir, Has Anybody Seen the Choir
At the break, I do meet some other folks who are not from Takoma Park - 2 women from Annapolis. And another Focus Music buddy is here (one who also will be at the Panzer's the next night.)
After the break, Gina and EM will trade songs.
The Malvinas (yes the whole group is here) sing Ordinary Blues.
And Gina sing something she calls her "cowboy muppet existential song"
ER sing a song for the Refugee and Immigrant Worker's Network and we sing along on the chorus " Women in search of safety, women of hope and courage,.. so I am a refugee"
On another note, Gina shared her Mardi Gras song and then the plaintive, "There is a land so far away…no more sad goodbyes".
I heard some of my favorites ER songs, in a room filled with their folk, and heard one of their favorite singers, Gina Forsyth and her group the Malvinas.
The Malvina's mention their inspiration, Malvina Reynolds, a feisty songwriter born in 1900 who wrote "Little Boxes". Why don't I know Malvina Reynolds name. Where have I been!
I am so grateful for the great folks in Takoma Park, for the hosts and their love of music, for some of my favorite songs from Emma's Revolution (but never enough of theirs), for great energy from Gina and the Malvinas. I also leave a bit warm (how do you cool a house with 50 or more folks in it in August in DC?). Sweet harmonies echoing in my mind. I tell my partner the Malvinas are great fun and play the coolest instruments. You are going to love tomorrow night.