25 July 2008

show review: Porlolo cd Release!

Porlolo CD release party with: Bad Weather California, Wentworth Kersey, Sorellina and the dancing Team Firefox.
Friday 18 July 2008, Hi-Dive, Denver

by Linda Ruth Carter

Cd release shows are always hold a little more excitement than any other. It’s kind of like a birthday celebration. (New songs are born and here’s this shiny document to prove it.) Friday at the Hi-Dive was definitely a celebration of Porlolo’s second full length release, Meadows.

This show was fun. If you read no further, just know that much is true. I’ve not kept it a secret that Porlolo is one of my all-time favorites, inside or outside of Denver, and I’ve been looking forward to the release of this cd for the past year or so, ever since I started hearing the first versions of the songs on it being performed. And Friday I got to be there.

As the rainbow unicorn cake on the merchandise table read: Porlolo believes in you. And from the people spilling in the door of the Hi-Dive, lots of people believe in Porlolo too. Present were not only the usual crowd of Hi-Dive regulars, but people who’d made a four hour drive from Gunnison just to be there.

Opening the evening was Sorellina, who is the Anna half of the duo cellists of Matson Jones. Though I couldn’t make out a great deal of the lyrics, I’d characterize Sorellina’s songs as being of the feminine singer-songwriter sort. Even the buzzy and a little too bright sound of a cello turned up loud at the Hi-Dive couldn’t hide that this girl has a lovely voice, and can play that cello to pieces. I’d like to hear her in a place where the sound is more conducive to what she is doing, but I was glad for the introduction.

Next up was the eight member dance troupe known as Team Firefox. Donning spandex, leg warmers, and glow sticks as necklaces, bracelets and anklets, Team Firefox danced a coordinated choreographed number to “Never Let Me Down” by Depeche Mode. The stage was too small for this performance so they used the whole floor from the half-wall back to the wall and from the stage almost back to the little stage in the rear. It was fun to watch, though I had to stand on a chair to see. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it in the Hi-Dive. I mean, they were really dancing. But they had the crowd watching, smiling, clapping, and perhaps trying to remember some of those dance moves too.

With smiles on faces from the cheerful dancing, next came the debut of Wentworth Kersey. I was one of the fortunate early kids to get a copy of their disc along with my new Porlolo (and a copy of Roger Green’s newest too.) Pretty awesome.

If Wentworth Kersey sounds oddly familiar for a debut band, it should. This is the musical project of Joe Kersey Sampson (A Dog Paloma) and Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens (George and Caplin) and if you like either or both of these people’s prior musical releases, you will likely dig this new collaborative set of songs. I did. After a couple songs Wentworth Kersey retired from the stage and joined the crowd to listen to featured band of the evening.

Porlolo said they chose to go on before Bad Weather California so they could sit back afterwards and enjoy hearing their friends play. Having heard a few of the pre-released songs off Meadows already, people were already calling out requests, many of them for “Animals” an extraordinarily catchy poppy sounding song sung with the saddest most tear-jerking lyrics, simultaneously hitting your emotions in two places at once. It’s fabulous.

No two times I can recall have I seen the exact same set of musicians accompanying Erin Roberts, though I believe I’ve seen her solo more than once. The cast of supporting players have many amazing repeat performers and whomever of her friends that accompany, I’ve always heard an enjoyable set. Whatever the line-up, the songs always seem to sound just right. On this night, accompanying Erin were: the overall-wearing guitar-sorcerer Roger Green; the ever consistent and copacetic drummer, Xandy Whitesel; the lovely and heart-stirring stringed sounds of Bela Karoli: Julie Davis on upright bass and Carrie Beeder on violin; and the talented songstress Kate Magnus (Placerville) on guitar, electric bass, and a hand-held keyboard. They played a few songs from Storm and Season, but mostly performed a nice long set of songs from Meadows. Song after song, the listeners smiled and cheered. Did I already say it was fun? I’m writing these words two days later and I’m still smiling thinking about it all.

Bad Weather California took the stage to send off the night. Chris Adolf is another Denver songwriter that has been known to take the stage either solo or with a different arrangement of musicians from show to show, but for some time now he’s had the stable line-up of Xandy Whitesel, Joe Sampson and Adam Baumeister making Bad Weather California an identifiable group. But things haven’t gotten stuck in any rut. Indeed there is always a vibe of unpredictability with a Bad Weather California performance. Lyrics are elastic and verses change from show to show, like the songs have a life of their own and have to be wrangled somehow to get them out in the air. But the chorus is familiar enough that the crowd is often chanting along in communal song. That might sound corny if you haven’t been there, but it is pure fun. Believe it.

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