Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles/Patrick Sweeney; July 16, 2008; High Noon Saloon

The last time the Borgeses (as we have affectionately taken to calling them) were in town, it wasn’t even to play a show. Only two weeks before they had played Summerfest and then had a couple days off before heading to Chicago to play Fitzgerald’s American Music Festival, so they spent them in Madison. They went to see Robbie Schiller and Blake Thomas play their regular Honky Tonk Tuesday gig at Mickey’s, they went swimming at “the pond,” and played ping pong in my basement. In short, they made themselves at home. Since they are some of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met, I couldn’t have been happier to have them around. When they told me they were coming in a day before their first show at the High Noon, I knew we would be doing it all again.

While this was their first time at the High Noon, it was their fourth time playing Madison in just about a year, and Madison has definitely taken a liking to them, just as they have taken to Madison. “We’re getting our own apartment here,” Sarah claimed to the decent sized audience who cheered uproariously in response. “I’m sure Kiki will be happy to hear that,” Binky added. Sarah is breathtakingly gorgeous, but she is definitely not a girly-girl. You only have to see her play once to know that is true. She tears it up on guitar while facing off with lead guitarist Mike Castellano or bending backwards into bassist Binky. And her songs reflect it as well. “Open Up Your Back Door” is as full of double entendres as an old blues song.

As the last song of the night she used the obvious sing-a-long to get their friends the Blueheels and everyone else they know on stage to echo the lines “turn your lights down low, open up your back door,” handing her guitar off to Josh as she did so. The first single from the record, a cover of the Reigning Sound’s “Stop and Think It Over” is a natural for the band; it’s a super catchy tune with some attitude. Behind her the awesomely named Broken Singles are a terrific band. The rhythm section (Binky and drummer Rob) power the songs, while Mike dresses them up. A sublimely stylish guitar player, he had every guitar player I know claiming they weren’t worthy. I can’t wait till the next time they come to town, and they better not get their own apartment.

Co-headliner Patrick Sweeney was an equally impressive guitar player, even if his songs weren’t quite as memorable. He had a terrific smile that he flashed every time he said something he found fumy. “For this next song we need it to be completely quiet,” he told the crowd, waiting for them to fall silent before turning to the band with a stage whisper of “I can’t believe they fell for it.” Songs he called “serious” turned out to be silly little instrumentals, but even so his guitar playing was the focus of his set. While never as over-the-top as some, there was a hint of Texas-style blues in his music. I didn’t feel the need to buy a CD after, but I enjoyed him all the same.

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