So after a nice spurt of warm weather this weekend, I can see my breath in the air again this morning. What the hell? Oh yeah, thanks Cleveland....
Last night I was at The Winchester, which has become one of my favorite clubs over the years, and lucky for me, I now live about a block away from it! I was there with Kelly and Jose, Mel, and my new arch-nemesis (and old friend) Justin, who were all making their first stop at The Winchester to see a show.
Kelly and Jose had invited us all out to see Anya Marina, who was opening a double bill anchored by Greg Laswell and Jay Nash. I recognized the names when I heard them, but hadn't heard any of their music prior to the evening. I decided not to cheat by checking out Myspace, Hype Machine, etc. before the gig - I wanted to let the music on stage sell me for the first time, and I didn't know it, but I was in for one heck of a sales pitch.
As the opener, Anya Marina delivered a charming set that had a vibe that reminded me a lot of the early shows that I saw Jewel play here in Cleveland. Like Jewel, you had the feeling that you were watching something special going down on stage. Marina, a short sprite of a singer, took confident command of the stage early with humorous conversation between songs including a comment about her "microphone that had gone flaccid" that we continued to laugh about long after Marina's set had ended.
When Jay Nash took the stage, you might have made a move to adjust your television set. Are you a fan of NBC's Friday Night Lights? Well, imagine if football misfit Tim Riggins' brother were to come strolling out on stage with a guitar, and you have a pretty good picture of what Nash looks like. Nash delivered a set that quickly won over all in attendance at The Winchester.
Really, how can you not like a guy that comes armed with plenty of songs and stories of "romantic miscalculation," including a tactical error of purchasing a guitar in Paris while wallowing in the emotional dumper, before realizing that he would have to carry the guitar with him for the next five weeks of the trip. Nash's voice was both smooth yet gritty at a moment's notice with the soul of a troubadour. "Sweet Talking Liar" was the song that a close friend loved enough to want Nash to sing it at his Connecticut wedding. The only problem was that Nash's friend had swapped out "liar" in his mind with the word "lover" - um, well....not quite.
Nash made a couple of Dylan references during the night, including a reference to the shared vision for the current tour as a Rolling Thunder Revue type of tour, with all of the musicians on the tour playing together throughout the night. Co-headliner Greg Laswell came out to add keyboards to a couple of songs during Nash's set, and Nash returned the favor playing various instruments during Laswell's set, including an ominous black bass guitar that looked like it had been stolen from Glenn Danzig's tour bus. Special mention should also be given to many of the tasty guitar licks and solos that Nash served up throughout the night during both his own set and Laswell's.
Laswell shared with the audience that none of the musicians really knew how to play bass, and that they had all been learning to play bass throughout the tour, and now they could actually play pretty well. Even Marina strapped on the bass for one of the closing numbers in the set, and Laswell remarked that it was really cool how their touring package of artists had become an actual band during the course of the tour.
It was an incredible night of music at The Winchester that kept getting better from the moment that Anya Marina took the stage to the closing moments of Laswell's set as the final notes faded away. Not having heard a note prior to the evening, I enjoyed the sets from Marina and Nash the most, and while I didn't connect as much with Laswell's music, he was very talented, and had a number of shining moments on stage, including a drastically reworked cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" that came packaged with a great story about a hate email he had received after recording the cover.
Laswell also shared one of the most poignant moments of the night with a dedication of "Not Out" to a soldier that was in attendance that had just returned home from Iraq, and a friend of the soldier told Laswell that evening that it was his music that had carried the soldier through the time in Iraq. It was a powerful moment, and Laswell was visibly moved as he shared details of the conversation.
The trio (and band) are on the road for a few more weeks, with the next show happening tonight in Columbus, OH. I can't recommend this tour enough, it was a GREAT evening of quality music from three exceptional artists. All three are promoting newish releases that would be worthy of your entertainment dollars. Check out the links below for more info....
While you're at it, get out and check out a show at The Winchester - the Winchester folks are good people that work hard bringing a lot of good music to Cleveland that might skip the market otherwise - The Winchester is a hidden treasure that more folks should be aware of!
Here's a Daytrotter Session from Jay Nash that you might dig.
Edit: And here's a Daytrotter Session featuring Greg Laswell as well!!
As a closing bonus, I'm also going to link an MP3 from Nash's latest album The Things You Think You Need. Nash has some good musical help on the new album, including David Immerglück and Charlie Gillingham from Counting Crows. I knew from hearing Nash's set that I really needed to grab a copy of the album on my way out the door, and I'm glad that I did. Here's one of my favorite tracks from the album, a tune called "Keep On Talking" that won me over early with the George Harrison-esque guitar riffs that slide out in the opening moments of the song:
Nash has a number of albums that are available on Itunes via this link. The Things You Think You Need is his first proper album that is available in actual record stores, for those of you that still frequent those types of places like I do!
The Winchester official website