Zoe Mulford, Marc Douglas Berardo and Betty Soo.
It’s always a treat for me to hear good songwriters in the round, playing off one another, and this show at the Bethlehem institution Godfrey Daniels was no exception. Marc Douglas Berardo remains, to me, one of the best at writing with a sense of place, evoking stories and characters from the harbor town where he lives, short little Springsteen-quality vignettes about his seafaring neighbors, Castro-era Havana, and more. His driving guitar style propels the songs; when you start watching what he’s actually doing on his Gibson you start becoming more and more impressed, as he switches from pick to fingerpicking, does Nashville hybrid (pick and fingers) picking, uses a boatload of “color” chords… It’s been almost three years since mdb has played in PA outside of the Philly area, and it was good to welcome him back.
Zoe was wonderful in her gentle elegance; beautifully fingerpicked ballads and story songs laced with a warm sense of humor… it’s hard to talk to Zoe and not leave feeling like you’re best friends. Since moving to England several years ago, Mulford has been drawing in more influences from the British tradition, and it’s adding even more depth and resonance to her music. She draws you in on singalongs, and got a great response for the evening’s single cover, her banjo-based take on 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.
Betty Soo was new to me; perhaps it’s being more familiar with the other two artists work, but while I loved her voice, her songs and audience interaction just didn’t connect with me for the most part. She’s certainly quite good; guess she just falls into the “not quite my cup of tea” category. Interestingly, I would guesstimate that she had the largest following there from the three performers, so, hey, probably just me.
All in all, a fine evening, well worth the 3 hour drive from Bellefonte!