Kyle McCammon

Jesse Ruben at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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I’ve seen Jesse Ruben do a full set at Rockwood Music Hall once before. Lois was sick that night. I had nothing but compliments for Jesse and you can read about it in the second half of this post. Last night he played Stage 2 and had a full band.

Everything I said about Jesse in the above-linked post was true last night, but it was a significantly better set. The full band was a nice enhancement and the set was more energetic (either because of the band or because of Jesse’s choice of songs). His stage presence was exceptional (as it was the first time).

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What impressed me most was his songwriting. I said that the last time too, but I’m sure I heard new songs and if the older ones held up on second listen, that’s impressive too.

For the most part, Jesse played rhythm because he had a high-quality band behind him. On one song, he called up two special guests and sang with them without the band. He finger-picked beautifully, so he can play the guitar nicely as well!

The guests were Kyle Patrick and Karly Jurgensen. It was convenient to call them up, since Karly had the set before Jesse’s (covered here) and Kyle had the set afterward. They sang gorgeous harmony (no surprise), but Jesse was the huge star in the song, called Advice (I believe). It’s an amazing song, his guitar play was excellent, and he sang most of it without harmony either.

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Twice he put down the guitar and sang his heart out at the mic. The first time was a cover of Joe Cocker’s The Letter. Really well done. Here’s Jesse singing with more than a bit of passion:

JesseRubenSinging

Supporting Jesse, left-to-right on the stage:

Greg Barbone on grand piano. We’ve seen Greg on a couple of sets, both on the same night. We were highly impressed with his play. That was true again last night on Jesse’s set.

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Nicky D’Agostino on drums. We’ve seen Nicky once before as well, and he was excellent last night, as he was the first time, supporting Carley Tanchon.

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Kyle McCammon on electric bass. Kyle played the set before with Karly, which was much more jazz oriented. He was really good on this set too, showing versatility in genre and style. He was also significantly more animated on stage during this high-energy pop/rock set. Jesse said that this was the first time Kyle played with him. That might be true, but I admit to thinking he was joking.

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Will Hensley on electric guitar. We just saw Will for the first time on July 31st at the Blues Brothers Benefit. He sounded good, but I noted that he was covered up (visually) and I couldn’t easily match what I thought was the guitar lead to Will’s hands. Last night, playing for Jesse, Will totally blew me away. He was amazing on traditional leads, and excellent with the slide as well.

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I will be thrilled to see Will play with anyone, just for his skill, until I find out he is willing to play with a dud headliner. Winking smile

Likewise, I’ll be very happy to see Jesse Ruben again.

Karly Jurgensen at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Last night started off bittersweet. Sweet, because we finally got to see a full set of Karly Jurgensen (at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2). Bitter, because at the show, she announced that she’s moving back to Nebraska at the end of September.

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I first saw Karly on November 4th, 2010, when Jesse Ruben called her up as a special guest to sing one of her own songs. This is what I wrote that night:

Karly Jurgensen toured with Kyle and Jesse all summer. Jesse invited her up to perform one of her songs, accompanied by Jesse and Kyle. Karly has a wonderful voice and plays the piano solidly. The song was beautiful, a slower bluesy number. Jesse and Kyle harmonized during the chorus. Very nicely done.

A month later (December 1st, 2010), we were at Rockwood 2, and I wrote the following:

The show was called for 7:30pm. We arrived at 7:10pm. I noticed that Karly Jurgensen was playing next door at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 from 7-8pm. I have seen her perform one song when I saw Jesse Ruben there and he called her up as a guest.

I was impressed with that number. Lois was sick that night so she missed Jesse and Karly. I suggested that Lois go next door to catch at least one Karly song before the Bess/Lelia show started. She did.

When she returned, she couldn’t stop raving about how great Karly’s voice is! Whew, I didn’t steer her wrong. Winking smile

You can listen to her on her MySpace page. We’ll be looking out for Karly’s upcoming shows!

So, nine months ago, each of us had heard exactly one song (probably different ones) and we were both promoting Karly to the other. We then saw Karly sing backup and lead at the Soul Revue Benefit (no piano that night), followed by some harmony with John Schmitt two months ago.

Last night we got to see her shine, and it was mighty bright! First, I feel absolutely silly having described her piano play as solid that first night. She’s fantastic, pure and simple. Her style is largely jazz oriented, which often calls for more sophisticated play than pop piano numbers. She’s completely up to the task.

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We already knew her voice was amazing, and that was true over the entire set. It has a laser-like cleanliness to it. She hits notes unwaveringly, and with as much power (or subtlety) as she wants, seemingly without straining (or even breathing deeply).

What we didn’t know, and pleasantly discovered, is that she’s an excellent songwriter as well.

While I described her style as being largely jazz, there is quite a bit of variety in her songs. She tackles various subject matter (lyrically) and her melodies and tempos vary nicely as well.

Karly was supported by two excellent musicians:

Matt Arbeiter on drums. We just saw Matt a week ago at the Blues Brothers Benefit. He continues to impress, last night playing a jazzier set. I think it was the first time Matt played with Karly, even though they are both from Omaha.

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Kyle McCammon on electric bass. Karly joked that when she sent Matt a number of YouTube video links for him to get familiar with her music, the only constant in her band was Kyle. We’ve seen Kyle once before, but I didn’t remember that until I searched my blog. It was on December 18th, 2009, when he supported Greg Holden at the Canal Room.

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Since then, I’ve heard about him dozens of times, and he impressed in consecutive sets last night.

Karly was very charming throughout the set, though also in a bittersweet way. Her intros/stories were captivating, but they were delivered with a sadness (or so it seemed) over the fact that this was her last NY show for a while.

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Of course, now we’re mad at Karly for opening our eyes just as she shuts off our access. Winking smile At least we bought her CD, Good Company, and her EP, Grace, at the show, and we’ll continue to look for any new projects she produces. I just listened to both Good Company and Grace. They are gorgeous. If you love female jazz singers, with gorgeous instrumentation, get both!

Lois passed a hand-written note to a friend of Karly’s during a subsequent set. She received a hand-written set list on the opposite side of the napkin. Here are photos of both sides:

LoisNoteSetList

Come back soon and often Karly!