Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twice in One Week

I don’t get out as much as I’d like. The vagaries of life, responsibilities and the growing exigencies of sloth all keep me from seeing the acts I’d like and going to the gigs I’d like whenever I’d like.

So it was a rare delight to see the same performer twice in one week. On July 17, I was up on the Lower East Side to see Seth Glier, both to enjoy his performance and to hang out. He was playing at Rockwood Music Hall, also a favorite destination.

It’s easy to see where Rockwood gets its name. The walls are roughhewn stone, mainly brick and concrete, leftover from what looks like earlier construction. There are interior brick windows in which massive amounts of candle wax have melted. The ceiling is made up of what looks like original beams, great long pieces of wood with a great deal of character. Walls and ceiling. Rock. Wood.

(That would be a great explanation, but actually the venue is run by Ken Rockwood, a performer in his own right as half of Professor and Maryann. The rock and the wood are coincidental Probably.)

But later on the bill was a young lady named ambeR rubarth (not a misprint). I listened to some of her songs and was quite taken, so I came back after Seth’s set, and we watched her together.

The small nuggets of bio you can glean from any cursory reading about her tell you that she was working with a sculptress when she realized she really wanted to be a musician. And she learned the guitar and applied herself with a single-minded purpose. She has been traveling and playing and learning all about finding her way in the music business.

And she lights up the stage. She is enormously appealing, with the kind of smile you find you are always looking for. A good voice, charming songs, both whimsical and quirky, and a good sense of herself on stage. One song in particular, “You Will Love This Song” is a lovely piece of circular self-referentialism about a break-up and songwriting about a break-up, and songwriting as well.

We spoke briefly afterwards and she told me she was playing in Philly the next Friday (which was, conincidentally, my birthday) as half of a duo called The Paper Raincoat (with Alex Wong, of Vienna Teng). This cycle of songs is based on a plot that they aren’t telling you, something about life in Brooklyn. You can enjoy them as songs but there is a stylistic and emotional through-line to them,. The melodies are much more driven, focused, and pop-laden. Alex is the centrifugal force, and ambeR is the lilting engine. Along with their jobbed in drummer, they kept their set engaged and engaging.

Both ambeR and The Paper Raincoat are about to release new CDs. Mark your calendars.