Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ari Shine, Adrienne Pierce and Chris Jennings @ the Red Room (3/8/13)

There were some big shows this night.  While Neurolux hosted Thao with the Get Down Stay Down and Treefort alumni Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, the Venue hosted punk stalwarts the Swingin' Utters.  I grew interested in this folk-leaning Red Room show, however, after receiving a press release on it.  Then, after I'd listened to Ari Shine's latest album on Spotify, I was certain that this was the show to see.

Apparently, no one else reached that conclusion.  I counted thirteen people when I reached the Red Room.  The crowd never got higher than twenty, if that.

Chris Jennings opened the night.  He was a little nervous, he admitted at the start of his set.  "Just drink more whiskey, man!" somebody in the crowd shouted.  "That's what I'm doing," he replied.  "It's not working."  I dunno, though--something seemed to be doing the trick.  Both his singing and guitar-playing sounded smoother and steadier than they did at the Crux back in January.  His "He Stopped Loving Her Today" cover was still a little awkward, but he did a pretty good job on "Bartender's Blues."  Meanwhile, his originals still had a plainspoken charm to them.

Adrienne Pierce played a set of her songs next with Ari Shine backing her up.  Her impeccably crafted pop-tunes brought back fond memories of Rilo Kiley.  Pierce's lyrics were more grounded and sensible than Jenny Lewis's, however, and her sweet, light, firm voice was all her own.  Personal favorite: "Winner Takes All," a cruelly kind/kindly cruel put-down of social-climbing arrogance.  Would make a nice companion piece to "It's a Hit."

Ari Shine closed out the night with a set of his own material.  My ears have grown so accustomed to perfectly imperfect voices (Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, etc.) that this gentleman's smooth, roots-flavored tunes and pleasant, polished croon raised some red flags for authenticity early on.  However, since he boasts lyrics as real as anything I've heard this side of Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, it didn't take long for me to take a shine to him (sorry, couldn't resist).  I was disappointed that he didn't play the lovingly detailed matriarch portrait "Best of Her Days."  Still, I was grateful to hear "Welcome to the Biz," a white-collar companion piece to Merle Haggard's "Working Man Blues," and "Ninety Nine," an Occupy Wall Street homage that could stand tall next to James McMurtry's "We Can't Make It Here."

You can find info on these musicians on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Wes Malvini and the Red Room.

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