UMS Night Two Travelogue: A Tom Collins at Club 404, Nathan & Stephen at the Mayan and more
Tom Murphy Nathan & Stephen at the Mayan
7.23.10 / Baker District, South Broadway
Well away from the densest cluster of the festival was a place called Fentress Architects Materials Garden on 4th and Broadway, and when you walked through the glass doors, there was a large room with these odd glass-encased displays that led to doors into something like a courtyard, with the back walls lined with samples of tile. It was in this environment to a quiet and respectful audience that Wentworth Kersey performed its delicately graceful songs.
Tom Murphy Wentworth Kersey at Fentress Architects Materials Garden
There's something about the sounds swimming on the edges of the melodies in a Wentworth Kersey song that create a heightened sense of reality. Jeffrey Stevens has a way of making sounds that suggest far horizons, light breezes and blue skies. Joe Sampson's acoustic guitar sound, coupled with his utterly sincere vocal delivery, was the embodiment of a fragile, earthy beauty. With the sun not yet set as the show started, the sky behind the band darkened as the music, even the encore demanded of Sampson, ended. Perfect timing.
Tom Murphy A Tom Collins at Club 404
Having decided, by default, to stay at the north end of the festival for the night, it wasn't a long walk to Club 404 across the street from the Fentress to catch A Tom Collins, a four-piece lead by Aaron Collins and featuring a trumpet player, saxophonist and upright bassist. Collins showcased his strong, gritty vocals and elegant but forceful keyboard work with an ebullient set of songs that sounded like they were influenced by Tom Waits and by various strains of New Orleans music.
Rowboat, the side project of Blue Million Miles frontman Sam McNitt, was supposed to fill in for a band that had dropped out, but he was able to convince his Blue Million band mates to fill in. It wasn't the band's wildest show but it seems as though these guys have really tightened up their material, and the song "Sunday Eyes" has never sounded better.
Tom Murphy Blue Million Miles
With coiling dynamics between guitars and rhythm locking together perfectly, Jeff Shapiro still lifted his guitar up in the "unicorn" gesture, and Johnny Lundock wailed away on the drums with his usual sense of raw abandon while holding down a solid low end with Ethan Ward. There was some newer material, as well, and it represents some of the band's strongest songwriting to date, with an even keener attention to melody and pacing.