Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bittersweets with Audrey Ryan at Club Passim--April 8, 2009

Front row table at Club Passim to see The Bittersweets, who I first heard on Radio Paradise and just fell in love with their music, their lyrics, their harmonies.

The Bittersweets are Chris Meyers (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Hannah Prater (vocals, guitar). They pretty much just followed the playlist of their CD, Goodnight San Francisco, including playing the title track because when they were tuning up someone (moi) asked Hannah if they were going to play it and she said, We'll see. They also played Long Day from The Life You Always Wanted, and a song that was a tribute to Julie Miller (one of these days I should start taking notes.)

Originally from San Francisco (well, that's where the two met), now they live in Nashville and from all reports (from mom and dad Meyers who I talked to by the door and also the mom in line in the bathroom) they like it there. I sincerely hope Nashville doesn't ruin them. Chris was already speaking in kind of a weird hillbilly accent, which is fun and folksy and all but God please don't get caught up in all the hoopla that I suspect can come from the record industry there. My God, look what they did to Lori McKenna's album Glamorous.

Anyway, they started with Birmingham and Hannah's voice is such a surprise live. It's sweeter and softer and a bit velvety compared to the studio version. Her soft voice and easy guitar strumming is a nice counter to Chris's keyboard and raspier voice. Chris is a wildman on stage; you can just see how much he loves what he does, and how much the music means to him. A couple of the Taylors they had on stage were both gouged up at exactly the same place right where the pickguard ran out and the wood was exposed to some serious strumming.

Audrey Ryan opened for them. Ryan is an interesting performer. Hmmm...quirky? Innovative? Eclectic? That night she was playing this Jordin electric guitar, tambourine, bass drum, maracas, and oh yes, an accordion. I didn't know her music, and what she played that night was hard to place, which actually is a good thing. Start with the all-encompassing alt/indie label, but then where do you go when she records a loop with her guitar, then layers the percussion over it and sings? A bit into her act she brought up a friend (Steve?) who works in the kitchen at Passim. Um, Steve didn't add a whole lot, which was kind of funny because in a weird way he became another one of Ryan's instruments, which he probably wouldn't want to hear but it did all work together.

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