Thursday, December 30, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #99: Vandaveer/Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird @ Iota, 12/19/10

There are nights when one has no idea what to expect. Other nights, you're pretty sure you're on the pulse of what might could very well happen. But on rare instances, my beloveds, you know what you're in for. And the very knowing makes you excited from your head to your toes. I was pretty dang excited the night of this here show, because if there is one thing I know, it's that Vandaveer cannot and will not disappoint (and neither, for that matter, will Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird). I won't beat around the bush here, my friends. This was one of my favorite shows of the whole entire 100 Shows project, and gather round as I tell you why.

MINI RECAP: Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird = Down Home Darlins! Vandaveer = Singing in Heavenly Peace! Overall Score: A

Y'all know how it goes, right? You live in a city and keep hearing about a certain band yet you never manage to get your shit together enough to make the acquaintance of said band. Thus is the sad tale of my stint in Richmond and Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird. Boatloads of my Richmond friends raved about 'em, and I left the city without even listening. Friends, I was a fool. This band has a flat-out gorgeous sound, rich with the timbre of the beautiful Virginia countryside and awash with twists and turns of folksy delights. They've got all the banjo, all the accordian, and all the fantastic folksiness you could possibly needs. Vassar's voice is as pure as a starry country evening sky, and I dare say I now love this band to bits.

Another band I love to bits also happened to be playing, that being the one-two vocal knockout punch of Mark and Rose, better known as Vandaveer (ok, so on many songs they were a one-two-three punch, courtesy of Tom from These United States pulling some guitar duty). Now listen up, y'all. I've heard a lot of singers in a whole lot of bands, but there are naught but a handful who can hold a candle to either Mark or Rose, let alone the two of them together. Rose's sweet, rich breathiness plays a wonderful foil to Mark's warm, quite possibly destined for greatness tones. I didn't let that festive kelly green sweater and red shirt fool me for a second: these two mean serious musical business. They had me good and mesmerized all night, be it the two of them by their lonesomes with an acoustic guitar, or joined by Tom with the electric or the slide. Charming and instantly likeable, the band bantered throughout the night, Mark zinging Tom at one point by proclaiming, "This song is absolutely not about you, Tom, though it is called 'Lost Cause,'" a dig which caused much chuckling amongst the audience.

But above all, it was the songs that made the night. I seriously had chills, y'all. This is one heck of a band, let me just tell you. The inclusion of some Christmas classics ("Silver Bells", "Silent Night", "Blue Christmas" and "Little Drummer Boy") added to the special vibe of the show, which already felt as warm and cozy as if it was in somebody's family room instead of Iota. Suffice it to say, Vandaveer is nigh on the cream of the crop, not just locally, but worlddangwide.

Both of these bands deserve your immediate attention. Go forth and prepare to be wowed, my lovelies.

mp3: Auld Lang Syne (Vandaveer from the FREE Xmas EP)

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