This past Friday was one of the best all around music days I’ve had in quite a while. The cool came in three parts.
It started out with a pretty decent busking day for Hobbit & Hare. We gathered some nice crowds and the money (especially for the season!) wasn’t half shabby.
(If I was to tell you how small that kind of money is you’d rightly wonder at my sanity for doing the busker thing. But the really sad part is, while we’re definitely not #1, if you were to list all the regular buskers at Pike Place Market by “average income,” H&H would be closer to the top than the bottom. This includes acts who, in my not so humble opinion, should be raking in the dough hand over fist.)
The Rockstar Moment™
During one of our sets someone came up to me and told me he’d been following me on YouTube for years. He was really surprised and pleased to run into me all live and in color.
I was both flattered and somewhat taken aback. There was a definite vibe of meeting up with someone who was actually famous instead of the sort of “small niche famous” I’ve stumbled into. One would have thought you could find my face on the supermarket tabloids or something.
But, yeah. I was mainly flattered. (Cue floating sunglasses.)
Due to the fact that my sweetie was off in Detroit visiting her mom, I had the vehicle. Driving home from the market by our usual route takes you within a mile or so of Shoreline Community College. While the Detroit trip was being planned someone I know strictly from my online circles mentioned that she had a show at SCC. (So that was an easy choice, right?)
This was a songwriter showcase night in the Black Box Theater at SCC. After clearing up Google Map’s confusion (no, Google, I don’t want the Black Box Theater in Loma Linda, CA) I made my way to the college with time enough to enjoy a mocha before showtime.
The Express Yourself Showcase was six acts and, other than the nearly unavoidable prevalence of solo acts with acoustic guitars, it was surprisingly consistent and high quality. All the acts should be pleased with their performance and the audience was ready and willing to show them the applause love. Here’s a quick listing (not necessarily in order of appearance): Elizabeth Sunderland, Derek Burgueno, Jared Bridge, Eric Kegley, Left At London (a solo act with a band name), and Leannan Sidhe (Sidhe is pronounced “she”).
Leannan Sidhe is a band that specializes in bittersweet fairytale folk music. They are who I came to hear and I’m glad I did.
In searching about for pictures of them I gather that they’re somewhat analogous to my band Accidental Rhino in that they’re a large group of folk that appear in different configurations, with the anchor point being the lead singer and songwriter, Shanti Singleton. Friday they were a trio with Shanti being joined by Dara Korra’ti on Irish Bouzouki and Jeri Lynn Cornish on Cello. Alas, I couldn’t find a pic of that particular trio, so the above picture is Shanti and Dara from an appearance at a Renaissance Faire in Oregon last year. (You can click or tap on the pic to embiggify it.) It was taken by Shanti’s mom and I’d like to take this moment say thanks for permission to use it here.
(One of these days it might actually sink through my fading brain cells that, yes, I do in fact have a camera on my person. But by the time it occurred to me it was too late to find out if photography was okay during the show.)
In addition to the “Look! Something besides guitars!”* part I was impressed by the quality of the songwriting and the arrangements. Shanti obviously knows about both rhyme and scansion and isn’t afraid to use ’em.
The arrangements fell into the “deceptively simple” category. This is where if you separate each part out no one bit seems overly ornate, yet the entire sound together ends up richly textured. Even with all the textures in the sound, no part stepped on another. This result can only happen with thought and rehearsal and is a telltale mark of professionalism.
Shanti has a lovely voice and copious amounts of stage presence. She doesn’t just step up to the mike and sing into it, she presents the song to the audience.
Jeri has obviously been playing cello for some time now. I have a soft spot for the cello’s voice and she has the practiced touch to bring that voice out, both arco and pizzicato. Despite her self-effacing comment on the subject, she can throw down some beautiful harmony vocals while keeping the cello singing too.
Dara mainly looked as serene as she does in the picture, whether she was doing a simple strum or a more complex series of arpeggios. She has her own band, Crime And The Forces Of Evil, which specializes in “rage-driven acoustic elfmetal.” Her most recent project is Bone Walker, a soundtrack album made for the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy novel series written by her wife, Anna. You can check out Dara’s music at the above link and here for Anna’s books.
As you might guess, I strongly recommend catching this act if they’re playing anywhere near you!
One Final Synchronicity
You know how Facebook will show if you have “mutual friends” with the person who’s page you’re on? According to FB Shanti and I have one mutual friend, Andrew Hare. Yes, as in bass player for Hobbit & Hare.
Apparently he used to play bass for a group called Uffington Horse and she was quite a fan of the band. He said she’d show up at most all the gigs, complete with fairy wings, and happily dance all night.
I don’t know why this sort of thing surprises me anymore.
* I do like guitars, BTW. But I like a bit of variety too.