I headed out to Park Ridge, NJ today to catch a show with Carolann Solebello (formerly of Red Molly) opening for Ithaca’s Joe Crookston. What an excellent show… this was like a master class in how to be a performing songwriter. Crisp performances, great songs, great audience interaction, and tunes both old and new. Both artists offered up songs from their forthcoming releases (Joe’s is slated to be out this Tuesday), along with some wonderful covers including Mary Gauthier’s Mercy Now, the old chestnut Satisfied Mind, and a nice duo take on Bury Me Beneath the Willow.
Joe was playing a new addition to his musical collection, a fretless gourd banjo crafted by a friend from Ithaca, in addition to his Martin and 5 string banjo; Carolann played her trusty mahogany dreadnought that Red Molly fans will remember well.
Highlights for me were Carolann’s new one about a “crimson red” pickup truck, and Joe’s Able Baker Charlie and Dog, the true tale of his grandfather’s work in WWII creating the runways the Enola Gay departed from before her epic mission. I’m guessing I’ve seen Joe solo about 6 or 7 times now, at venues from living rooms to festivals, and he is an inspiration in constantly raising his own bar for performances. I’m humbled at the dynamics, the power, just the sheer joy he seems to be having during his sets. This was a genuine treat for me to be able to catch the show with Carolann opening; it’s wonderful to hear a set full of her songs and her voice… if I had a complaint about Red Molly, it was Carolann didn’t sing lead enough; it’s nice to hear her in a setting that is more of a showcase for her individual talent… and also great to hear how well her songs stand up on their own, without the harmonies that defined the RM sound.
All in all, a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!