LIVE REVIEW: Goodnight Texas, Kelly McFarling, Daniel Ellsworth @ Brick and Mortar, SF 2/15/12
Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes are serious entertainers. The four entered the stage and got right to it. With a loud electric guitar, keyboards, drums, and bass, these Tennessee natives transitioned the sound of the night from folk (slightly country) to rock, and the crowd loved it. Their presence said “we’re here to get this done right,” which translated into a set of songs that were well-structured around fast riffs and pleasantly clear vocals.
The good thing about Brick and Mortar is that you can enjoy a drink while you’re listening to a great band. But the bad thing is that you can enjoy a drink while listening to a great band. This means that when someone as beautiful sounding and smooth as Kelly McFarling enters the stage, you will be more than f-ing annoyed when all you can hear are some people blabbering about how “oh we need to be hang out more often!”
However, McFarling shut even the most obnoxious people up when she really started singing. Playing a banjo, backed by stand up bass, drums, and the pedal steel guitar, McFarling brought a new take on country, or folk, or country-folk, if you will. Her set was filled with intimate songs about her life and things she hasn’t quite figured out yet.
Goodnight, Texas is Patrick Dyer Wolf, Avi Vinocur, Jonathan Kirchner, and Andrew Laubacher. It is banjo, guitar, drums and a stand up bass, it is folk and serious and breathtaking. Opening with “Long Life of Living,” their music was somber and dark and they had my complete attention from the first pluck of the banjo. All through their set was a prevailing theme of succumbing to a darker force, of being the victim of some twisted fate.
“Old St. John” sounded like an old folklore ballad sung with a bleak apathy for life’s tribulations. Singing “Guitar on the floor, and my girl on his lap, so I topped off a bottle with more than a cap,” with such sincerity, it was as if in another life, he really did kill Robert Johnson. If you talk to them after the show you might find out that in fact, they have a strong liking for dark sounds and always wanted to have loudness and moments of complete silence in their music.
You might also find out that lead singer Avi Vinocur has always had a strong connection with the Civil War, and portrays this in song “Jesse Got Trapped in a Coal Mine.” Then, you might really, really look forward to their new CD which is set to be released in the near future.
For more photos, visit the entire set on Flickr.