Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

A couple of weeks ago, after the family had turned in for the evening, I wandered down the street to hear Jimmie Dale Gilmore perform a late night set. I've seen Jimmie Dale perform a number of times -- both on his own and with the Flatlanders -- so I knew what I was getting. Nice show, no surprises, the usual stream-of-consciousness rambling between songs.

The wild card for the evening was Jimmie Dale's opening act, Eilen Jewell. Being a music geek, I generally try to learn something about an act -- even an opening act -- before I walk into a club or theater. That night, however, I walked in a blank slate, not having done my usual due diligence. My tuned-in musician buddy Stevie Doyle, with whom I attended the show, hadn't heard of her either. Nevertheless, we were both impressed with what we heard.

The Boston-based singer-songwriter hit town with her crack band and played a tight set of intelligent, swinging music. Her relaxed, behind-the-beat phrasing evoked Willie Nelson, Gillian Welch, and even Billie Holiday. (After citing Lady Day as a big influence, Jewell and the band did their own take on "Fine and Mellow" -- and it worked well.)

I thought enough of Jewell and her band that I bought a copy of their most recent CD -- 2007's "Letters From Sinners and Strangers" (Signature Sounds) -- in the lobby after the show. The disc is excellent. I'm not sure how I missed out on hearing about this band last year.

Here's a clip of the band performing the opening cut from that CD:

Check out Eilen Jewell when she hits your town.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Wish she would come to St. Louis. Matt, only you would mention "due diligence" when talking about attending a music performance...