Sweet Bitters at Googies

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Last night we saw Sweet Bitters perform at Googies. We’ve seen Sweet Bitters once before, at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, and I shared my thoughts about that show in this post.

Sweet Bitter

Sweet Bitters

Last night was not just a normal show, but rather a fund-raiser, to help Sweet Bitters put together enough money to put out a professional CD. They have more than enough material do so, but money is always a hard thing to come up with.

We really like their music. We also really like Sharon Goldman and Nina Schmir as people. So, in addition to looking forward to another opportunity to see them perform, we wanted to support their fund-raising effort.

There will be 13 songs on the new CD (which they have already begun recording). Last night they performed all 13 songs, as well as one request which was shouted out from the crowd. Lois commented to me after the show that the requested song, Rich Little Poor Girl, should be on the CD too. 🙂

Of course, they were wonderful, as they were at Pete’s. Like Pete’s (which can seat roughly 24 people), Googies is small. It’s a lounge, upstairs from The Living Room (which is a bar and music club, and much larger than Googies itself). Googies can probably seat 40, and can squeeze another 20 (I’m guessing) standing in the back. To repeat, it’s really a lounge, where people are meant to drink and socialize while a piano player serenades them softly in the background.

That makes for an incredibly intimate experience, which last night definitely was. Sharon plays guitar (very well) and sings (beautifully). She also writes wonderful songs. Nina plays guitar (very well), sings (beautifully) and plays keyboards (extremely well). She also writes wonderful songs.

At Pete’s, Nina played electronic keyboards. Last night, she played on the real grand piano that is a permanent fixture at Googies (it is, after all, a lounge). It’s likely that with my eyes closed I couldn’t really tell the difference between a good electronic keyboard (played through a good sound system) and a real grand piano. Even so, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Nina play on the real grand piano. 🙂

Googies Grand Piano

Googies Grand Piano

At Pete’s, the women were alone on the stage. Last night, they brought along Andrew Frawley to accompany them on the drums. He’s an exceptional drummer in general, but last night, he was the perfect complement to Sweet Bitters. In a room that size, with that sound system, and with the mostly folk genre of their music, most drummers would have overwhelmed them. Andrew was masterful with the brushes (no sticks last night) and not only accompanied them, but he was interesting to listen to just for the beats that he created.

This bodes well for the new CD, as Andrew is playing drums on that as well. He is also the principal engineer on the new CD, and it’s being recorded in his studio!

Sharon mentioned that they haven’t settled on a name for the new CD. Lois told her that she favors Falling Into Place (which just happens to be the title to a gorgeous song of Sharon’s), for many reasons. The minute Lois mentioned it to me I agreed wholeheartedly.

If I had to take Sweet Bitters to task it would be on one issue. They have been together long enough, and perform together very well, yet still make it apparent that a song is either Sharon’s or Nina’s. Don’t get me wrong, we like knowing who wrote a song. But, the way they do it, makes it feel like they are individual performers, sharing a stage, rather than a duo where the individuals happen to write songs separately.

Aside from the banter (“You do a couple”), it’s apparent in a different way. Each sings their own songs start-to-finish (with harmonies by the other, but no verses led by the other). In every one of Nina’s songs, Sharon sings harmony, but always puts down her guitar, even when Nina is playing keyboards. In other words, they don’t arrange the songs to use both of their talents together. Not a huge deal, but I think worth noting (and fixing).

In addition to hearing terrific music last night, we had a great time with a wonderful bunch of people who were there to support Sweet Bitters. There was a raffle (we lost), and some very nice items available via a silent auction. The ladies handed out very nice goody bags to all the attendees. The atmosphere was warm and inviting and we enjoyed every minute of the evening.

As a bonus, we also discovered the larger venue downstairs (The Living Room), which has now officially been added to my NYC concert radar. The night before, one of our favorite performers was there, Chris Thile. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware of it until the day after.

So, if you like the music you hear on their MySpace page (linked at the top of this post), then be bold, and send them a check to help them complete the new CD. You’ll end up having at least nine additional songs to enjoy from this very talented duo! 🙂