One of my main goals with this blog is to keep track of shows I go to. I would love at the end of the year to have a record of them all. Here it is only January and I'm already two shows behind, with a third coming up this weekend! I better get caught up....
Tuesday night of last week I headed out by myself to Ron Sexsmith at Schubas. I know I'm getting old, as a 9pm show on a weeknight seemed really late to me! I guess it's just me, as he pulled a pretty solid crowd.
Kim Taylor opened. Earlier that day I was downloading some of her stuff to check her out (legally - from EMusic), and first thought "wow - she reminds me a lot of Over the Rhine". Eventually I somehow came around the fact that I had actually seen her open for Over The Rhine in Dec. 2005 at The Old Town School of Folk Music. I suspect the song that was really reminding me of Over The Rhine actually had Karyn Berquist on background vocals. Anyway, she opened the show with her acoustic guitar, and I find her to be a slightly above average singer-songwriter. I definitely enjoyed her more this time than I did the last. Partly I think the smaller setting serves her better. A couple songs from her latest CD particularly impressed me - "People" and "My Dress is Hung". Apparently she owns a coffee house in Cincinnati.
Ron had a band with him - guitar, bass, and drums - all fine musicians, and played a solid hour and a half set. I won't try to attempt a set list, but he hit most, if not all, of his albums, and did 1 cover, though I can't for the life of me remember what. He did a short little solo acoustic section that included Strawberry Blonde and God Loves Everyone.
I can't put my finger on what it is that I love about Ron. In the hands of a less skilled performer his songs could drip schmaltz, but they never do with him. They're often love songs full of sincerity and optimism, with little nuggets of insight into humanity. Great melodies. He's got the whole package, but never comes off as pretentious (on record or live).
I fully enjoyed this show - no complaints, but for some reason can't find too much to say about it. As the evening wore on I got a bit tired and less engaged. Strangely this was my 3rd time seeing Ron (a previous Schubas show, and 1 at Martyrs) and I can barely recollect those sets either. But that is not at all to say that he is not great live - he really is.
If you want more info, you can check out another mini-review from a blog here (with image of actual physical setlist!). Or better yet, watch it - apparently someone was stealthily taping the show and has posted quite a bit of it to YouTube - check it out here.
Oh, and maybe I'm just extra-sensitive after the recent Hold Steady debacle - but huge kudos to Schubas for the sound at this show. It was near perfect.