Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Caitlin Rose Played The Mercury Lounge on April 1st -- FIRST-EVER GUEST POST!!!

And MomVee Stood The Whole Time

OK. This is exciting. My former kindergarten classmate, current Tuesday Night Trivia teammate, fellow blogger, and good, good friend, MomVee, has agreed to write a review of the Caitlin Rose show she attended at Mercury Lounge a few nights ago.

Check out her work over at Watering Place, and you'll quickly understand why I'm so thrilled to add her voice and her perspective to CoolDad Music, even if it's just this one time. I think adding the point of view of a coolmom is an important step for CoolDad Music; and, while we do overlap, MomVee's musical tastes differ enough from my own to bring some freshness to this space.

This is an excellent one-off, but I'll see what I can do about getting MomVee to pay us all a visit every once in a while. Until that happens, you can keep up with her through her blog and by following her on Twitter.

Caitlin Rose at the Mercury Lounge

By MomVee

I don't remember how I first came across this video of a little girl brilliantly covering Caitlin Rose's "Own Side."

Most likely someone linked it on Twitter, but it could also have been embedded deep in the "recommended posts" on Google Reader. You know, the ones you check out when you really, REALLY don't want to do anything productive. Anyway, thanks to Rowan, her parents, and the OP, I discovered Caitlin Rose a little over a year ago. iTunes reports that I have played "Own Side" 319 times, and that's just when I'm sitting at the iMac.

I really like her work. I really like Wilco's work, too, but I saw them at the Hammerstein Ballroom six years ago and as I staggered to Penn Station through back spasms I told my husband that I would never again attend another standing room show, as I was too old. R. thought it was about 14 years too early to make that claim, but I have managed to avoid standing concerts ever since. Until now. Caitlin Rose doesn't come to New York very often. She's a Nashville native and she's very big in the UK. So much so that's she's picked up Spencer Cullum, Jr.* a delectable British pedal steel player who looks like a cross between Harry Potter and Gary Louris of the Jayhawks...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I was going to see Caitlin Rose in person even if I had to stand up to do it. So Monday night found me at the Mercury Lounge. As small venues go, the Mercury Lounge is pretty good: the main bar is in a separate room just as you come in, so you can grab your drink and then go into the performance space, where everyone is nicely focused on the performance--there's a tiny satellite bar in the corner but it's unobtrusive. There are even a few seats to either side of the room, but I eschewed them and stood with the young'uns. And they were young, whew! It was an early show--6:30 doors/opener, 7:30 main act--so I guess most of them had just woken up.

At this point a petty person would complain about her drink. I haven't gone out much in the past five years or so, and meanwhile I've been spoiled by my brother-in-law's fine wines and my husband's masterfully crafted cocktails. So I won't complain about my drink.

I was late because, despite my advanced age, I have not yet learned to accurately read a train timetable. However, the opener--Rose's guitarist Andrew Combs--had not yet gone on as of 7 pm, this being one of those nice times when the irresponsible circumstances of the young and the old bring them together. Combs is a looker, a capable guitarist and an above-average lyricist who could easily slide onto any episode of ABC's "Nashville." He did a few numbers strictly solo, a few joined by members of the band, and then it was time for Caitlin Rose.

She opened with the very catchy "No One to Call," the first cut on her new album, The Stand-In. I didn't keep a set list but looking at The Stand-In I'm pretty sure Rose performed more than half her new songs, including "Only A Clown," (she bravely declared her fondness for clowns against the current cultural phobia, and made clowns a thread throughout her between-song patter), "Waitin'," "Dallas," "Pink Champagne," "Silver Sings," and "Old Numbers." From her previous album, Own Side Now, Rose performed "Shanghai Cigarettes" and "Spare Me--Fetzer's Blues."

On about the second or third song, my companion leaned over and asked, "You've seen her before, or just heard her?" I knew instantly what she was talking about. Rose, obviously comfortable on stage and easy with the aforementioned patter (if very self-aware), is virtually expressionless while singing. Some emoting would bring her to a whole new level of performance, and it would help to get her intricate lyrics across. My friend, herself a veteran performer, had an interesting theory: Rose's voice is such a magnificent instrument that she doesn't have to make any of the "straining for the note" or "whoops I missed it" faces the rest of us make when we sing. It is fun to hear those effortless melodies, but it would help to add the human connection.

The set was a short 45 minutes (Rose mentioned that explicitly, along with the fact that early shows "give me the f&*#ing willies") and it ended on a heart-pounding high with new song "Menagerie" followed by a rollicking cover of the Buck Owens classic "Tiger By The Tail," which highlighted Andrew Combs once again.

I had been a little irritated with the two young women next to me, who spent the entire 45 minutes discussing their social lives and prospects for the evening, but all was forgiven when Rose declared the end of the set and the three of us called in wistful unison, "Own Side!" Confession: I had a very brief fantasy that Rose would say, "I'm really tired of singing that, but MomVee, why don't YOU take the mic..."

It was not to be. The lights went up, and I went around the corner to get some tapas and a decent glass of wine.

*Cullum and Rose's guitarist Jeremy Fetzer have a side project, Steelism, that I'll be checking out soon because I love pedal steel and cute Brits.

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