Friday, December 26, 2008

that's all they really want

Across the lobby and through the courtyard to the Little Room we go (slipping in at the same time as David and Gillian)!

sophie's choiceDave Rawlings Machine, The Little Room at Largo, December 19, 2008: We had steeled ourselves to the possibility of ditching Jon Brion's set if it overlapped with the Dave Rawlings Machine show in the Little Room, but we were waffling during the second song in their collaboration. Their third song offered a short reprieve, the opportunity to commence the mental calculations--and the decision there was no way we were going to miss the other appointment.

Fortunately, it worked out nicely, though I had to wonder how long the crowd in the Little Room waited. David and Gillian took some time to set up, the Largo crew flitted in and out to tend to administrative matters, and yet more bodies flowed in through the doors. As the early arrivals from the main gig, we were able to secure seats at the back, but latecomers (including some of the guest musicians) squeezed in where they could.

As the show began, it felt like we picked up exactly where we left off the week before. Casual and playful, David and Gillian joked with the audience, tuned often, and even worked in some fashion references (David blaming his chambray shirt for certain setlist selections by Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen; Gillian acknowledging a fan's comment about her new outfit).

Though I caught only two shows in David and Gillian's December residency, my guess is that if you put together all three concerts, you'd get something close to their typical single gig. Sprinkled among their originals and collaborations were other favorite covers, such as the apt and long-overdue "Sin City" and "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight." David handed over vocal duties to his "rhythm guitarist" for a couple of tunes, including "Throw Me a Rope" and a song I can't name.

And of course, there were the musical friends. Morgan Nagler returned for "Sweet Tooth," while Largo's house band in all but name (Jon Brion, Sebastian Steinberg, Benmont Tench, Sean Watkins, and Gabe Wicher) clustered around--and beyond--to finish up the show. The pinched platform couldn't hold Jon, Sean, and Sebastian, but they staked out their spots on the floor and away from the stage lights. And of course, they played as if their lives depended on it.

After three songs, two by Neil Young ("Time Fades Away" and "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World") and one that was sung by Gillian and whose provenance escaped me, the supporting players left the stage for David and Gillian's finale. They chose a song I'd had in mind since these shows were first announced and sorta assumed would come later, rather than sooner. If you've seen the Dave Rawlings Machine live before, you probably know what it is too: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Though I wasn't surprised by their song selection, I didn't expect what came next. Not 10 feet away from us in the back of the room, Sebastian introduced a bass beat, and standing beside him, Jon stepped up with acoustic guitar. A short while later, Gabe Wicher emerged from behind the bar to join the duo and to add some strings.

From our seats, Gabe's violin sounded especially sweet, with Jon's harmonies a close second. (For the record, our little pocket couldn't resist singing along; I don't think we were the only chanteuses in the room, but then again, I'm not sure I heard too many other voices.) Altogether, they indicated to me that we--both the artists and the audience--are just scratching the surface of possibilities at Largo at the Coronet.

See also:
» with soul power
» please take my advice

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