Saturday, November 18, 2017

He-Bird, She-Bird, and some quick thoughts on LI Americana

Finally got to catch my friends He-Bird, She-Bird live last night at the Bellport Library. I reviewed their CD on this blog a few months ago, and I was supposed to catch them live at the Bellport Bandshell one night near the end of the summer. Unfortunately, on that night, it rained buckets, and I stupidly didn't notice that they had an alternate indoor site listed for the concert in case of bad weather. So on that night, the show went on, but I didn't.

Anyway, last night, I finally caught up with them, and it was a pretty triumphant show. The normally 3-piece He-Bird, She-Bird played as a 6-piece band last night, which included Bill Ayasse from the mighty Long Island prog rock band Frogg Cafe sitting in on mandolin (and occasionally on violin).

Earlier in the evening, the library had hosted a community dinner. And while I passed on the food and went straight for the music, there were still some tasty aromas and the sound of people happily munching going on as the show began.

The band showcased their excellent 3-part vocal harmonies throughout the night, on a bill that included some country, bluegrass, folk, Americana, and even a touch of Gospel music. The band played a variety of covers, including their version of Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and a slow, waltz-like version of the old classic, "You Are  My Sunshine". However, most of the program was concentrated on He-Bird, She-Bird originals, including numbers from their eponymous debut album such as "Once I Called You Mine," "Don't Tempt Me" and "Little Muse O'Mine", plus some newer and as-yet-unrecorded material.

It would be fair to say that a good time was had by all.

I have to say that I've found 2017 to be a good year for music, and for local music, in general. And for whatever reason, it's been a particularly strong year on Long Island for new albums in that folk/Americana/country range. In addition to the He-Bird, She-Bird album, there have been strong entries from Pete Mancini, the lead singer/songwriter of Butchers Blind (Foothill Freeway) and The Nancy Atlas Project (Cut and Run) on the country/Americana front, and a strong folk offering from The Hank Stone Band (Painting Tomorrow's Sky Blue). And a number of former Long Islanders have mined the same territories with new 2017 albums, including The Kenn Morr Band (Along the Way), Dave Isaacs and his new band, Renfree Isaacs (Renfree Isaacs), and former Mother Freedom front woman Leslie Mendelson (Love and Murder). I'm going to put this in list form at the bottom of the column today, in case anyone wants to copy it for easy holiday shopping.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

He-Bird, She-Bird - He-Bird, She-Bird
Pete Mancini - Foothill Freeway
The Nancy Atlas Project - Cut and Run
The Hank Stone Band - Painting Tomorrow's Sky Blue
The Kenn Morr Band - Along the Way
Renfree Isaacs - Renfree Isaacs (Digital only)
Leslie Mendelson - Love and Murder