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P.T. Walkley and Band Perform At The Talkhouse 6/9/09

P.T. Walkley and his band were a magical surprise show at the Stephen Talkhouse
last Saturday, June 6, 2009. P.T., a rather experienced songsmith and singer, with
terrific phrasing skills and a great lyricist – – with the words not flowing quite as
expected they would – – proved that going out to the Talkhouse, after missing Reel Karma a few nights before, still made for a wonderfully inspiring evening. Many of the tunes were short and sweet. The tang and beauty of the melodies linger still, especially the guitars as they faded away in the super short pieces: Lizzy Lee Vincent (no relation to Gene ???) from Birmingham (Burmingumm) UK
was the man in the black tie and gray shirt on the lead, and P.T. did his overall choreographing/trumming and plucking and driving songs from beginning to end. Mike Nolan was loverly in his little hat on the pedal steel, especially on the last few songs. But the star for me for joie de vivre, energy, and expertise was the vibrant, wild, sometimes manic, fiddler Earl Maneein. He had a brimmed Mao Tse Tung kine of green hat and stomped his brisk feet whether he was firing thru
a song or stomping about the extablishment. Absolutely loved him and his contribution to the music. The Brothers Kulund, Nicky (drums) and David (bass) bottomed up the rhythm section with fire, constancy and pizzazz. Marc Trachtenberg played pretty extemperaneous fitting piano
noteage thru each tune upon which he tickled his keys – – he also contributed to the vocals.
How about this for an example of Walkley’s lyrics: from ‘Comin Over’ with the great last line >
Biding my time/One glass, I’m passing through/Waving goodbye while whispering I love you/I think about you/I think without you I’d be blue/Is it coming over you/Wake me when my dream comes true…..

Yes, P.T. is a very romantic fellow. In fact, his tall slim beautiful wife Michel sings in the band and plays the tambourine. Many of the tunes are actually rather Beatle-esque. Though without a doubt in my mind, the hottest song done by the band that night was ‘Four Cheers.’ Apparently, this song was originally done with/by P.T.’s former band the Blue Jackets. There is a video of
it available on the internet via YouTube, but it pales in comparison to how they all did it live at the Talkhouse toward the end of the show (after a ‘Suicide..’ David Bowie cover that was mildly fair). Lizzy Lee played some really hot licks to begin the tune, his loose tie ahangin’ over the guitar neck, then the band came in, and they cooked. My advice to P.T. is: record your current members doing this song either live or in the studio and release it! If it comes out close to how you sounded on June 6, 2009, maybe you will have yourselves a beeeeeg hit!?!

The two songs ‘Mediocre’ and ‘To Be Somebody’ were interesting to end the CD ‘Mr Macy wakes alone’ and similarly in concert…but not the ideal subjects for music to play over and over again.

P.T. Walkley has a very very bright future. He and his band sound great in person. Go out and see hem whenever they come to your town. They/he may likely become a familiar and popular ame/phrase/buzzword in American culture in the years ahead.

Ray LaMontagne Tenderly Troubadors In Westhampton May 30, 2008

Ray LaMontagne at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center…a very visceral
experience. Ray a quiet fellow, not liking to talk between songs. Playing with
his quartet, the electric/lead/pedal steel guitarist the finest of the musicians;
a supple feline bassist, reminiscent of Rick Danko of The Band in her demonstrativeness
as she delved out each note and/or riff; the drummer very tasteful and restrained, except
when he played ‘Three More Days’ and ‘Trouble.’

Ray reminds me of what I would have expected in performance from the late reticent Englishman Nick Drake, who died at 26 back in the 1970’s…Feeling each song so very deeply. His hoarse seductive voice a lonely one, a loving one. Calling for his momma in his second encore, unlike other songs I’ve heard call the maternal one, panging and soulful.

Prettiest song of all though was the first encore, from his new album recently recorded
to be released on September 2nd, 2008. ‘Winter Birds’ had a beautiful intro, Ray all by
himself for the only song tonight, just him and his guitar, finger picking it to make
Mississippi John Hurt proud. But even prettier and more complex than what I’ve heard from the great finger-picking pioneer. The lyrics about the winter birds coming back, the days shorter, the nights getting longer….

Though as he broke into the vocal it came out wrong, and he had to stop himself, and start
all over again. Regardless, a lovely tune. One to look forward to hearing again and
again in September….

Perhaps his most terrific song lyrically and emotion-wise has these
powerful lines (from ‘Empty,’ from his second and most recent album
‘Till The Sun Turns Black’):

“I looked my demons in the eyes
They’d bear my chest
Said do your best
To destroyyyy me

You see, I been to hell and back so many times
I must admit
You kind of bore me

There’s a lot of things that can kill a man
There’s a lot of ways to die
Yes and some already did
And walked beside me

There’s a lot of things I don’t understand
Why so many people lie
It’s the hurt I hide
That fuels the fire inside me

Will I always feel this way??….”

For the rest of the short show, less than an hour, Ray was the rhythm master, getting each ong going, just playing chords, never having to retune his guitar – – he doesn’t play it
hard or fiercely enough. The music jazzy, folky, misty, unique.

The crowd was all white, very appreciative, knowing many of the works Ray performed from his quiet searching heart. He is a very serious man, about 30 or so, who works through each song. He’s a songsmith, with the spirit of a blue collar blacksmith without the big hard muscles or the soot. He sports a full beard and appears very Christlike as he fragilely begifts the audience a part of his soul with each song sung.

Recording his songs he especially takes seriously after he has he let them take flight out of him in their composition. “I always, always end up recording the songs that I feel are
important to me to work through.” he is quoted in the program guide.

Many of those in the audience expressed their love for Mr. LaMontagne in between songs, and he managed to return the emotion, tho in a taciturn manner. His performing seems to be not an entertainer’s joy, but more a sacred evolution of himself and his inner feelings and intelligence.

‘Gone Away For Me’ had me in tears as I thought of my late beloved wife, as did the following song about sheltering each other.

It was a beautiful tender tho intermittently sad evening that makes one feel mortal and fortunate for having whatever love one is fortunate enough to have, or have had. I thought of my own love, which is usually wild and ecstatic, and Ray’s quiet lovemaking, as he expressed it in one song.

As he was about to begin one song, the light was getting to him as he plaintively said “I feel so exposed.” The lights were turned down, and he thanked whomever was responsible, before commencing another stellar performance of another grand but simple song.