Sunday, May 04, 2008

Dietrich Gosser/Josh Harty & Blake Thomas/Jentri Colello; May 4, 2008; Corral Room

It’s been a long time coming, but Dietrich Gosser’s “What the Buzzsaw Sings” is finally released. He describes the extensive studio effort as being a great learning experience, but one he doesn’t want to do again. He and percussionist Dan Kuemmel worked closely on the project as they added bass, strings and even knowingly out-of-tune banjo to their masterpiece. And it is a beauty. Songs that have long been live favorites, “Ocean” and “Noah’s Ark” are fully realized here. Definitely worth the wait.

On a late Sunday night, I was hoping their set tonight would be worth the wait. If you are schedule a show for 10 on a Sunday, please start then, instead it was somewhere around 11 when Jentri and her band finally took the stage. I use the term stage loosely, since it is really just as area at the front of the room, its boundaries delineated only by the band’s equipment. Seeing a show at the Corral Room is a lot like seeing a show in a basement, and one not nearly as nice as mine. Although not officially, Jentri was also celebrating a release, her five song EP “Bird of Prey” had just been completed. At the bargain price of $2, I should have bought more than two and given them to everyone I know. Recorded over the course of several days at DNA Studios, it is a remarkably polished effort considering the band really only came together a few months ago. The highlight of every intimately personal song is Jentri’s smoky, sexy voice, but no one on the band is a slacker.

Josh and Blake followed with a short set of their originals and a truly inspired acoustic version of “Billie Jean.” Fiddle player extraordinaire Shauncey Ali was on hand to lend it an air of class, but overall it was one of the sloppier sets I have seen them play, not that it wasn’t charming in its own way.

By the time Dietrich and Dan took their turn, it was long past bedtime and closing in on bartime. Dietrich is a smart and original songwriter, and his songs would stand up strongly on their own, but the inventively creative percussion that Dan adds gives them their unique fingerprint. His “drum kit” is a collection of the unusual and the traditional, and both are played in non-traditional ways. My favorite in the former category is the Fisher Price Happy Apple he found in his parents’ basement. Tones that soothed youngsters for years, add a pleasant, melodic twist to these haunted tunes. Most of “Buzzsaw” was included in the set, as well as a few new compositions, still my favorite was “From a Mercury Lynx” from his debut EP “City of Trees.” His tale of an innocent family trip always sounds much darker than it actually is, the line “I close my eyes for just a minute, and I’m back in Illinois” seeming more threatening than its literal meaning.

Yeah, it was worth staying up late.

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