Saturday August 15th I rounded Nicole up to join me for my first trip to The Spot a non-profit, artists’ collaborative, performance space and art gallery, located on Thayer Street in Providence. Knowing ahead of time that The Spot has a BYOB liquor license, due to the astronomical and unfair cost of full service liquor licenses in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations caused mainly by the bloated cost of our ineffective state government, and the area’s unfortunate puritanical and Catholic roots, Nicole and I stopped at Madeira Liquors for a six pack of my new favorite indulgence, Dogfish Head’s India Brown Ale. We arrived and traversed the stairs to the loft, filled with paintings and sculpture and music, a true artist’s haven. Divided into two eclectically decorated rooms, you enter into the stage room, explicitly designed for live performance, music, comedy or theater. The second room , called “The Ballroom,” had a more open floor plan with a check-in bar and refrigerator for your drinks, and a lounging area with chaises and bean bag chairs with a layered cloth overhang. So comfortable and inviting looked the lounge area, I thought it best to avoid, at least for the time being, lest I’d be in for a nap rather than a night of music. There were four performers for the evening, Jenny Brown, Buick Audra, Jon Tierney and The Kris Hansen Kollective.
Nicole and I quickly grabbed a seat as the show was well underway and Jenny Brown was already on stage and into her set., I had the chance to capture two songs:
Jenny had a lovely voice and delicate strumming on “Players Know When to Play Pretend,” it seemed a song born from scorn, but had an up beat rhythm and her soft voice took some of the bite out of the lyrics. Intimating that she had decided to play it the night before she actually had a slight brain freeze on a verse and quickly picked up where she left off. “Everybody Knows” was another well strummed folky song with good word play. I got the feeling she was from the area, and enjoyed her set, but unfortunately I haven’t seen her post any more shows to her myspace since this one.
On tour from Nashville, Buick Audra, a fair skinned dainty beauty took to the stage next. Impressing on all fronts, her vocals were powerful, lyrics poignant, and guitar work strong:
Buick opened her set with a number called “Streets of My Town,” from her 2008 album “Singer.” Nicole and I were both startled by the range and feeling of her vocals, she accompanied the evocatively sentimental lyrics with a delicate strum pattern. Her second number “A Girl Named Buick,” was an intimate autobiographical piece. Playing a slight rhythmic pattern on guitar during the first verse, she began to pick up the pace for a bit of a musical interlude before the second verse. Grabbing an electric she continued to enchant with her voice while playing a bit louder, sliding up and down the neck. “Strong as You Think” was a brilliant declaration of self, available on her forthcoming album, due in 2010. Nicole and I took the next few songs to wander the ballroom/gallery, chat with Kris, refill our beers and just generally take in the scene. We enjoyed our beers and conversation by the windows overlooking Thayer street before returning to the stage area for Buick’s last song, “Pizza Dream.” It was certainly a relateable song, especially this day in age, using great imagery and word play. I was very impressed by the end of the set, as was Nicole. Eluding to an album next year, I hope she comes through my town on tour again, definitely a great live set!
As a few more guests arrived the stage area began to get overcrowded, and Jon Tierney and Kris had set up a PA system in the ballroom to move the party into more spacious accommodations:
Jon played his brand of catchy folk songs complimented by the power in his baritone voice. He started his set with his original “Life Goes On.” Capoed on the second fret he strummed quickly while telling his story. A newer song he’s worked out, inspired by the Discovery Channel, “The Desolate Regions” was next. Frantically paced and rife with chord changes, Jon painted pictures with his lyrics. Slowing the pace a little he began a softly finger picked number, “Downcity.” The heartfelt lyrics were more evident with the delicately picked guitar compared to his more rhythmically centered songs. Following a theme, Jon played his hometown anthem next, “Providence.” It was another well written narrative song, showcasing his rhythm guitar skills. “Costa Rica” was a delight and the final number I captured of Jon’s set. Utilizing his great word play, powerful voice, portions of finger picking and great rhythm pattern throughout the song, it was the best example of all his strong points. I quickly made my way to the men’s room and out for a cigarette as Jon finished his set with a Stephen Stills number I heard wafting from the windows to the street below.
As the night pressed on I was running out of energy as was my lovely companion, once I returned upstairs, Nicole and I stayed for the first portion of The Kris Hansen Kollective’s set, before making an early exit for the evening:
This was the first time I’d gotten to see Kris perform with a band, every time I’d heard his songs previously I’d felt they were written to be complimented with full instrumentation, and th Kollective delivered on my theory.
Starting the set with their up beat original, “Sunshine,” Kris quickly changed pace and began a bit of the introspective relationship number “Squared.” The bass and drums made it sound more full than I’d heard it before, his cadence following that of his guitar playing, quickly spitting verses. Following with “Big Brother Blues” The Kollective kept the song musically up beat, with a bluesy feel. It had me shaking in my seat with its great walking bass line and driving drums. As with many of Kris’ songs it had good lyrics and a great hook. The final number for which m’lady and I stayed was titled “Angel,” and musically had a bit of a marching feel to it. In between songs Nicole and I said out goodbyes and relished in the great night on the town. The Spot was definitely a great venue and I look forward to catching many shows there when I can.