Matthew Sweet (Click to enlarge)
Tommy Keene (click to enlarge)
Matthew Sweet didn’t interact with the audience much Friday night at the City Winery in Chicago.
He spoke only a couple of times (other than when he was pitching his Kickstarter campaign for a new album and bronze cat figurines). He didn’t open his eyes but a few times, either (he said the lights hurt his eyes). And in the opening portion of his set, Sweet opened and closed every song at the back of the stage facing his guitar amps instead of the crowd.
Didn’t matter. Sweet and members of The Velvet Crush still have the magic that made him one of the most dynamic power pop voices of the early ’90s. Sweet’s vocals still sprinkle the coarse instrumentals with a powdery coat of sugar. Their renditions of “Girlfriend” and “Devil with the Green Eyes” were particularly stirring.
My biggest thrill of the night, though, was when I learned that Tommy Keene had crashed the party. After an excellent opening set by Chicago’s Stolen Silver, Keene bounded onto the stage with a 12-string guitar and sang several lovely low-key songs. Then he picked up his Telecaster and members of The Velvet Crush and mayhem ensued.
Keene also bounced around the stage, providing great backing vocals and energy for a couple songs during Sweet’s set.
I’m looking forward to Matthew Sweet’s new album. I hope Tommy Kene is on it.
Jennie DeVoe at Taste of Tippecanoe (Click to enlarge)
I’m bummed. Local officials postponed the Taste of Tippecanoe just a couple songs into Jennie DeVoe’s set because of a big storm headed our way. I don’t blame them. You don’t mess with public safety. But damn.
The Indianapolis-based singer, who delivers blues and a bit of country with a sweet rasp, was making tons of news fans and then breaking their hearts with her songs. I know mine broke when the set got canceled.
Check out her latest album, “Radiator: The Bristol Sessions.” It’s great. And if you need a ride to see DeVoe in Indianapolis later this summer, let me know. Guess I’ll have to make a trip south on I-65 now.
Sharon Koltick of Kink Ador (Click to enlarge)
Sharon Koltick and her Nashville-based band, Kink Ador, rocked their set, too. Koltick, a Lafayette native, funks up her punk and pop songs with her bass, trumpet, vocals and sassy stage presence.
Bobby Egan and White Vinyl Sky (Click to enlarge)
I’m also glad I got to see the set by White Vinyl Sky featuring Bobby Egan, one of my students. I think they were even better than when I saw them at a Record Store Day show. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys make it big with their poppy indie rock.
I’d planned to split my time at 9 p.m. between the sets by The Green Room Rockers and by Michael Kelsey and L.D. Miller. Then I was going to close the evening with The Mixtapes (the drummer is the husband of one of my former students). I’d also planned to sampled some more food. If the rest of the culinary treats were as good as the beef brisket I had from the West Point Steak House I’d have been a happy boy.
They reopened the Taste after an hour-long delay, but I’m cozy at home with my pup. No matter; I had a great time and am looking forward to the event next year.
Soul and bluesman Mighty Sam McClain’s voice floats. Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat’s voice soars.
Together, their tunes rooted in the sounds of traditional R&B and traditional Persian music are almost other-worldy in their beauty. I’m partial to “Scent of Reunion: Love Duets Across Civilizations,” but everything they’ve recorded is worth acquiring.