Folk Alliance is nothing if not about good old music performed as we’ve never heard it before. Two artists jumped out last night, both larger than life in every sense of the phrase.
From the blues world, Australian Lloyd Spiegel earned the first standing ovation I’ve seen in a small room. Overflowing into the hall, the crowd whooped and hollered at vocals strong enough to blow down the biggest house of blues anywhere, and inventive guitar chops that left us breathless. Percussive and lightening fast, Spiegal’s licks aren’t about showing off or putting as many notes together as possible–though he does that, too–but about painting a sonic image so complex that the audience just sits back and basks in the whole, like an impressionist painting where the sophistication of the brushstrokes is not the bigger point, it’s the work of art as a complex piece.
That Spiegel has disarming patter, began touring at 12 years old and played for years with Brownie McGhee is gravy. Blues lover or not, no one should miss this man.
Heather Mae gives Adele a run for her money. This Washington, DC-based powerhouse almost lost her voice permanently, and what a loss that would have been. Heather Mae came back, she told her audience, determined to write pop songs about thing that matter to her. Around here, “pop” gets a questionable rap, but if you’re thinking Britney Spears, you need to be thinking Adele and Barbra Streisand-this gal’s got the pipes. Whether you care deeply about LBGT and body-image issues or not, Heather Mae’s songs and delivery will move you…sometimes soft and gently, as a breeze moves a feather, and sometimes loud and hard, like a Ferrari, but one way or another, this gal takes the audience where she’s going, and we love the ride.