Turning Point Cafe

Red Molly at Turning Point Cafe

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We love Red Molly. On Friday, I saw their Facebook update that they would be playing at The Turning Point Cafe in Piermont. In fact, they were playing two shows, at 4 and 7pm.

We had dinner plans with a couple that we see so rarely, that there was no way we were going to cancel. We invited them to join us, but they couldn’t, so we decided to go to the 4pm and be back in plenty of time for dinner.

Unfortunately, the 4pm was sold out, but the 7pm wasn’t. We called, and they told us to show up and they’d try to squeeze us in. We did, and they did. We stood for the entire show, near the bar, but the place is so tiny that the view and sound were still darn good.

Red Molly is three women, each with fantastic voices (in different registers) and each an accomplished string musician as well. Because their voices are distinct, their harmonies are extraordinary.

RedMolly

Appearing in their usual left-to-right order:

Abbie Gardner sings (she has the widest range of the three) and plays guitar and dobro. Abbie is a delight in every respect, full of life and mirth. She also performs solo and with others, but she’s definitely best known for her part in Red Molly. Most of the instrumental leads in Red Molly are taken by Abbie on the dobro.

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Laurie MacAllister sings and plays guitar, banjo and bass. She has an excellent voice and handles the middle of the range in the three-part harmonies (for the most part).

LaurieMacAllister1 LaurieMacAllister2

Carolann Solebello sings and plays guitar and bass. She has an excellent voice as well and fills in the bottom on most of the songs. Her song Summertime is one of Lois’ favorites, and when Carol started introducing it, Lois flashed a mile-wide smile.

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Individually, they are all incredibly talented. Combined, they are magic!

Joining them for two numbers was Abbie’s father, Herb Gardner, on the piano. He was excellent, in particular on the second number, where he took a very long ragtime-like solo. They call him Pops.

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After briefly heading off stage (to a rousing ovation), they returned to do their signature cover of Susan Werner’s May I Suggest, always a tingle-inducing number. Including the encore, their set was about 95 minutes. Well worth standing for, since we were looking over people’s heads, rather than standing amongst a crowd.

Just in case you’re curious, dinner was fantastic as was our company, so we got to do it all yesterday. 🙂

Kaki King at Turning Point Cafe

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Last night we saw Kaki King at Turning Point Cafe in Piermont, NY.

On October 24, 2007, we saw Kathy Mattea at Joe’s Pub in NYC. Accompanying her that night on guitar, as he has been for roughly 18 years, was Bill Cooley. When I reviewed that show I stated that I thought Bill Cooley was possibly the best acoustic guitarist I had seen.

My friend Eric Sink commented that he thought Phil Keaggy was probably the best he’d seen, but he mentioned some others, including Kaki King, who he practically dared me to listen to. 😉 Here’s his exact quote (in a comment to a different post I made about Phil Keaggy):

Or if you’re quite daring, have you listened to any of Kaki King’s stuff?

So, given that I respect Eric so much on every level, I had to check her out (and Michael Hedges, whom he recommended as well). I liked Kaki King alot, though there’s little doubt that she’s not a mainstream artist on any level.

Last night was the first opportunity I had to see her live, and I jumped at the chance. I had never been to Turning Point Cafe, but I knew it was a small place. In fact, it seats roughly 63 people. We had awesome seats and were roughly eight feet from Kaki, dead center.

From the many YouTube videos that I’ve watched of her (and the two CDs that I own), I knew that she plays with a full band (and plays multiple instruments herself) as well as just solo guitar (her forte). I figured that in a club this small, she was likely to play solo, and indeed, that’s what she did.

She announced at the beginning that she was experimenting with getting back to her roots of solo guitar, without any vocal accompaniment either! She was hitting up a number of clubs that booked her back in the early days, in order to share the intimacy of that experience with the people who were fans of that style of music.

Here’s a photo to show you how good our seats were, and how intimate the entire experience was:

Kaki King

Kaki King

She didn’t disappoint whatsoever. Aside from being quieter than usual (at least according to her) 😉 she is a lovely, thoughtful person. Her guitar virtuosity is exemplary, but her selection can be quite brooding, even angry at times. Like I mentioned above, and like Eric hinted at, this music is not for everyone.

We invited good friends to join us, even though I knew that neither they, nor Lois, would find this kind of music entertaining. That said, seeing Kaki King perform (and you can get a really good sense if you watch her YouTube videos) is as much a wonderful performance art experience, as it is a musical one. She’s a wizard on the guitar.

Here’s a photo of her using both hands on the frets. She creates some incredible sounds when she does this, and both sets of fingers seem to fly independently (but in sonic coordination!). In addition, it’s special for both of us, because we’re Wicked and Wizard of Oz freaks, and she’s obviously wearing the Ruby Red Slippers, so she’s Dorothy to us. 😉

Kaki King Wizardry

Kaki King Wizardry

We live 20 minutes from Piermont (on the other side of the Hudson River). Our friends live in Northvale, NJ, 10 minutes from Piermont (further from us). We went for an early dinner at their house, and then we followed them to Piermont. We arrived at around 6:15pm (doors open at 6pm) and ordered some drinks. The show was called for 7pm, but Kaki came out at exactly 7:15pm.

She played straight through to 8:35pm, with the only pauses being tuning. She (and many other current guitar masters) use a variety of non-standard (perhaps they are standard now!) tunings, and they switch them often for different songs. Here’s a fuzzy picture (sorry) that shows her tuning, but also shows one of her original guitars, that she recorded her first CD on (she closed the show with the last cut from that CD):

Kaki King Tuning

Kaki King Tuning

As I suspected, none of the three people that came with me (Lois included) were enamored of the particular selection or style of music (though each found at least one song that resonated with them). That said, I hope they all had a nice time nonetheless, and appreciated how talented this woman is. I think they did. 🙂

I would definitely go see her again live, with or without a full band, but I would likely only bring along Lois next time. 🙂

Last night was the first of four concerts in a row for us. So, when we got home (around 9pm), we packed up the car and headed to the city (the next three shows are all in NYC). Expect updates on each one over the next three days.