Monday, April 1, 2019

He-Bird, She-Bird (Again)

Yesterday was a rainy Sunday afternoon. So what better time to catch up with one of my favorite local bands these days, He-Bird, She-Bird?

I headed out to the Sayville Public Library, where the show was scheduled. I had a free day, and the price was right. (Library shows are generally free -- Todd Evans and I had an email conversation about how I got a little out of control with my concert budget recently, so I was especially excited about this). Although I'd never been there before, I found the library pretty easily -- it's just a couple of blocks west from that cut-rate Sayville movie theater that my kids like so much. I parked in the church parking lot next door (I figured it was a 2-hour show at most, so I'd be long gone if they had a 5 o'clock mass scheduled).

On my way in, I had a brief conversation with two women, one of whom looked familiar. I later learned it was Linda Sussman, an excellent folk musician I used to see play back before The Zen Den became The Pisces Cafe. She's been recording again, and playing out frequently, so I'm hoping to get to catch her sometime soon. I also said hello to Hank Stone, who was standing out in front of the library, waiting to meet up with Bob Westcott. I stepped inside, and the first face I saw was Bob Westcott's, so I popped back out to let Hank know he was already inside. I then headed downstairs for the show.

This was my first time inside the Sayville Library. It looks nice and new, and it seems like a pretty impressive library.

As I entered, He-Bird, She-Bird was doing a quick sound check. I settled in, and chatted briefly with Hank and Bob before the show.

He-Bird, She-Bird plays both originals and covers in a variety of compatible genres, including folk, country, Americana and bluegrass. Each of the members of the band makes their own unique contributions. Todd Evans plays a mean lead guitar, and provides the gravelly male vocals. Terri Hall provides many of the lead vocals, and plays an assortment of hand-percussion instruments. She has the kind of voice that is perfect for those slow, bluesy country songs, although she also does quite well with more upbeat numbers as well. Christine Keller adds the rhythm guitar, and sings in a sweet, pretty voice. She also does the songwriting for the band's original numbers. And Zach Swanson (who I think is now a regular member of the band) plays one of those huge stand-up basses, and provides the band's music with some nice bottom end. He-Bird, She-Bird has put out one self-titled album so far, and it sounds like they're in the process of recording their follow up.

This day's show found the band in top form. After Bob Westcott introduced them, they kind of sauntered back onto the stage one by one, and one instrument at-a-time, worked their way into "Travelin' Song", one of the best numbers from their album (on which Todd sings the lead.) Other favorites from the LP included "Little Muse O' Mine" with Christine singing, and "Don't Tempt Me" with Terri taking the lead.

They also mixed in some excellent new songs, including "I Don't Care", a comedic number that found Todd playing a brow-beaten husband, "Hell or High Water", a song Christine wrote partially based on the Western film of the same name, and "You Won't Find Me", a track about quitting your day job.

They also threw in some covers by some of their favorite national artists, including Emmylou Harris, Hazel Dickens and Trio (wherein they established that Todd was singing the Linda Ronstadt part. Oh yeah, did I mention that these guys do some terrific three-part harmonies as well?)

They closed out with their own version of the old Roy Rogers and Dale Evans song, "Happy Trails", on which they invited the audience to sing along. Bob Westcott coaxed them back for a one-song encore, but I couldn't tell you what it was, because by then my bladder was bursting and I was too busy mentally plotting my way to a restroom to focus properly on the music. (Aging sucks.)

In any event, He-Bird, She-Bird will be continuing their World Library Tour (my name, not theirs, although they're welcome to steal it) next Sunday afternoon at 2PM at The Brentwood Library. If you're free that afternoon, I'd encourage you to check them out.