Haley Bonar and Erin McKeown: the camera phone special!
Disclaimer: One of this post's subjects, Haley Bonar, is on Afternoon Records, in which some of this blog's writers have a financial interest. This doesn't change the fact, however, that Bonar is objectively awesome.
Download: Erin McKeown - "To The Stars"
I caught Haley Bonar and Erin McKeown at the Cedar last night, and hot damn. That was a show. Though I preferred McKeown's jazzy, bluesy, and extremely entertaining performance to Bonar's subdued, though lovely, set, the whole show was a perfect example of how the opener/headliner dynamic should work. Bonar gave what amounted to a beautiful warm-up; her songs easily filled the huge room, even though she only had a drummer as back-up.
McKeown came up next, and owned the stage from the first moment. McKeown's diminutive frame was already striking surrounded by the Cedar's giant space, and her look - bright orange t-shirt, yellow necktie, hair standing on end - made the overall visual immediately great. Then there's her songs, which sound timeless. Not only does she dip into both Tin Pan Alley and the Brill Building for inspiration, she does it in a way entirely her own. This is folk music that isn't exactly "folk" - it's part rockabilly, part swing, part pop. And McKeown's amazing guitar skills, played on an instrument making up a third of her size, are something to behold. She was backed by crack band Allison Miller on drums and Sam Kassirer on piano and organ.
Be a good music fan and check out her records Distillation, Grand, and Sing You Sinners (the latter being her new record, a covers album of standards).