We went to Rockwood Music Hall to see Valerie Mize play the 8pm set (last night). In Valerie’s event page on Facebook, she touted the act following her, Deb Oh. That name sounded vaguely familiar to me. I listened to a number of songs and realized that a while ago, someone else mentioned that I would like Deb Oh, I agreed, but ended up not being able to attend her upcoming show.
Thankfully, it was very convenient for us to stay this time after Valerie’s set.
Thankful, because I was blown away by every song in the set. (The end…)
Seriously, Deb Oh has an exceptional voice (range, power, nuance), plays the piano incredibly well and writes haunting, sophisticated songs. I am sure that Deb could hold my interest in a solo performance. I would be willing to find out whether that’s true, but last night she was supported by an excellent band, so the only thing I can tell you for sure is that they produce such a rich sound together that is not to be missed.
On one song, Deb lifted a small organ and placed it on top of the piano. I would say it looked like an old toy, except that it seemed that it was incredibly heavy and unwieldy for her to handle. There’s a photo of it on her Facebook page (I hope the link works).
The band is called The Cavaliers, hence the title of this post, Deb Oh and The Cavaliers. I’m not sure we experienced the normal lineup of The Cavaliers. There is a guitarist and drummer listed in a number places that weren’t there. I’ve seen a different bassist mentioned as well. No matter, here’s who we got to see, left-to-right on the stage:
Alan Jeffries on cello. Alan sat 12 inches from me, exactly where Ward Williams sat the set before, also on a cello. Alan did a nice job throughout the set, but his volume was a touch low.
Dari Matilsky on vocals. Dari sang on roughly half of the songs. She has a gorgeous voice and harmonized with Deb perfectly. I was particularly impressed that on two songs, she basically sang “Oh” (stretched out), over and over. In other words, her voice was purely an instrument (an amazing one), rather than singing words in harmony with Deb.
Martin Fowler on electric and upright bass. Martin did a wonderful job with the upright, with the bow and plucking and on the electric as well. I mentioned above the haunting nature of many of the songs. This was partially enhanced whenever Martin was bowing (sawing) at the same time that Alan was doing it on the cello.
Dave Yim on drums. Dave was terrific throughout the set. His drumming added greatly to the haunting rhythms, at times very jungle-like.
I suspect that Deb Oh is a marketing genius. A number of her songs have “Oh” repeating. In Adonais, she sings “Oh” eight times in a row. In Vesper, 15 times in a row (rhythmically, very interesting!). I think she’s subliminally making sure everyone remembers that the song(s) they loved is/are associated with Deb “Oh”.
In that vein, I already mentioned that Dari sang nothing but a ton of Oh’s on two of the songs.
After the set, I bought a copy of Deb Oh’s EP, Cold Glory. I purposely overpaid (she had the correct change), not just to throw $2 extra her way, but so that she’d remember me if she reads this. I love the EP, which comes with a bonus track. You can listen to the EP (with the exception of the bonus track, Knots) in its entirety on Deb Oh’s Bandcamp page.
Deb performed one cover, Brandy Alexander by Feist. Here’s the set list from last night:
Already looking forward to the next time we get to see her!