Last summer (I think it was even last Labor Day weekend), I was planning to take in the Long Island acoustic trio He-Bird, She-Bird at the Bellport Bandshell. I had reviewed their debut album a few months earlier, and was looking forward to finally catching them live. I even invited my friend Rich out, since I was pretty sure he'd enjoy them. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas, and it poured like the great deluges of the Old Testament. Rich, Denise and I had a pleasant dinner at the diner instead, and it was only the next day that I learned, much to my embarrassment, that my famously short attention span had missed the fact that there had been an alternate indoor location for the show in case of rain. Duh. Anyway, I did catch up with them a few months later at the South Country Library, and all was well.
However, when I saw on the schedule this year that the band was playing the Bellport Bandshell again on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend in 2018, I vowed not to miss them this time. (And I took careful note of the this year's rain location, just in case).
I should mention that although this is only my second time seeing them, I did have some prior familiarity with this band. He-Bird, She-Bird comprises Todd Evans, Terri Hall and Christine Kellar. I've known Todd many years, dating back to my days with the Long Island Music Coalition, and the scene at the Pisces Cafe. Sometimes Todd would play solo, sometimes he'd be supporting someone else, but he was always a part of the scene there. Then, about a year-and-a-half ago, I met Terri at the Saturday morning Weight Watcher's meeting my wife and I usually attend. She was there often as the substitute group leader whenever our usual leader, Randi, was on vacation. Terri would sometimes bring her guitar and play, and we naturally started talking about the local music scene and her band. It was only after I'd met her a few times that I put two and two together and realized that she and Todd were playing in the same band. Christine was the only member of the trio I hadn't met before last night, although we did briefly e-mail after the library show at the end of 2017.
The weather was a little iffy yesterday, and I wasn't sure until well into the day whether it would turn out to be an outdoor or an indoor show. Rich came over in the late afternoon, and we went out for a leisurely dinner before the show (which was probably a little too leisurely, as we got there a little after the show started.)
Now if you guys read this blog at all regularly, you know that I complain a lot. It's my nature. I'm kind of a grumpy guy. I even used to write a travel blog called "The Grumpy Traveler". Some of you may even be fellow misanthropes, and maybe you even read this blog mostly to listen to me kvetch. If so, this will be a disappointing entry for you, as for once, I have nothing to complain about. It was as nice a night of music as anyone could have asked for. The Bandshell is right off the water in Bellport, and after a couple of weeks of oppressive heat, the weather for this show was perfect. In fact, there was enough of a cool breeze that it was almost cold. The show was well attended, and we even ran into a number of old friends from around the scene, including Hank Stone and Marilyn, and Bob Westcott and Amy Tuttle. (It's been nice in the last year to start getting out again and reconnecting with people.)
What I like best about He-Bird, She-Bird is the triple-threat nature of the band. These are three talented musicians who blend together flawlessly. They play a variety of styles, including folk, country, gospel, bluegrass and Americana. They have different vocal styles -- Christine's voice is high and sweet, Terri's is a little lower and more audacious, and Todd has a gritty kind of voice with a little bit of a bite to it. They harmonize realy well, and their diverse musical styles keep their music consistently interesting.
At last night's show, the band played two sets of about 50-minutes apiece. They were accompanied by Zach Swanson on a stand-up bass and Gary Settoducato on drums. Over the course of the evening, they played a variety of covers of artists, including Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Hazel Dickens, Sam Cooke and George Jones, plus some originals from their self-titled debut LP, including "Don't Tempt Me," "She Got Married" and "Little Muse O' Mine." They also played some new stuff they're working on for their next album, such as "I Don't Care," an amusing song sung from the viewpoint of a perpetually criticized boyfriend/husband, and "I'll Show You Mine," a song that Christine told us had first popped into her head when she was thinking about food.
Along the way, I learned that the trio had originally come together at the Bellport Acoustic Jam at the South Country Library (which Terri said she attended for two years before she found the courage to actually play something, and Christine also attended a few times before she even felt able to bring her guitar to it), and that Terri has been regularly attending all of the Bellport summer bandshell shows since first moving to the area a number of years ago. Clearly, these guys have some deep roots in this community.
He-Bird, She-Bird is a band just reaching their prime. They have a ton of different material, so each show is a new experience. They played to a nice-sized crowd at the bandshell, most of whom stayed from beginning to end. They have a number of live dates coming up, which are listed on their website at www.hebirdshebird.com, and their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HeBirdSheBird. I'd encourage you to go check them out.