Mercy Bell

Mercy Bell at Rockwood Music Hall

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Mercy Bell headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. It’s been a very long time coming for me to finally see her perform.

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In fact, I’ve been aware of Mercy Bell for two years and this was the first time I saw her live. In March 2010, Mercy Bell invited me to see her perform at The Living Room, with Julie Peel and Alexa Wilkinson. We hadn’t met (and I hadn’t heard about her). She told me that whenever she Googled her friends, my blog kept coming up.

I agreed to attend and was really looking forward to it. The day before, I got really sick. I tweeted my apologies to Mercy and she tweeted back something like: “Dude, your health comes first, there will be other shows!”. She was right, but who knew other shows meant two years from now… (to be clear, that’s when our schedules aligned, not that she hasn’t played in NYC since.)

Since then, I’ve been following Mercy on Twitter, and I like everything about her as a person. Last night was finally the time to find out about the music. Smile

Mercy performed the beginning of the set solo, accompanying herself on an acoustic guitar. It was as classically a singer/songwriter folk set as you could imagine. That’s one of my favorite genres, so far so good.

Not always, but for much of the set, I felt that Mercy’s voice was eerily reminiscent of early Joan Baez (that’s a very good thing, in case you’re wondering). When we left Rockwood, Lois said to me “Don’t you think a bunch of times she sounded like Joan Baez?”. Cool, I wasn’t crazy! Winking smile

She accompanied herself on the guitar well enough to be a solo act, but I personally preferred the few numbers that she finger-picked on, to the slightly choppier rhythm ones.

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In the end, in addition to her lovely voice, it’s all about the songs. I was definitely drawn in repeatedly to her lyrics, which ultimately (at least for me), define a good folk set. The melodies were engaging as well.

Mercy displayed a wide range of volumes (sometimes within the same song). Considering how attentive and quiet the Rockwood crowd was, I personally preferred the quieter singing, which drew me toward her.

Halfway through the set, Mercy invited up a guest.

Liz Burke (on the web, she’s more easily found as Elizabeth Burke) sang harmony on a few numbers, very sweetly! I don’t think she performs on a regular basis on her own, so I’ve linked her name to her LinkedIn page. Update: Liz was kind enough to leave a comment below with a website that does indeed showcase her musical talent!

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After singing another song or two solo, Mercy invited up another guest, one who does perform on her own. Mercy said that they just finished co-writing a song which they were about to debut.

Maryanna Sokol sang some very light harmony. In fact, if I wasn’t the closest audience member to Maryanna, I would have sworn that she didn’t sing at all during the first song. I’m chalking it up to the fact that this was a spanking brand new song. In fact, here was a tweet from Mercy from just before the show:

Mercy Bell ? @mercybell

Mmmmm @MaryannaSokol and I just collaborated on our first song 🙂

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Maryanna stayed up for another song, which she sang a bit more on, but still not that much. Then Mercy invited Liz back up to sing at the same microphone with Maryanna and they closed out the show with more serious three-part harmony.

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Nicely done all around.

If Mercy hadn’t been mobbed after the show I would have taken a minute to introduce myself. Instead, we scooted home, since it was nearly 11pm.

Our relationship will now continue on Twitter, until the next actual sighting. Smile