Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles/The Blake Thomas & Josh Harty Band; June 10, 2009; High Noon Saloon

Yes, tonight was the first night of Twangfest, and yes, I was supposed to head there with Michelle after the Art Brut show, and yes, Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles are also playing there two days later, but when I found out that the Borgeses were playing the High Noon tonight with Blake and Josh’s all-star band, I had to change my plans. It wasn’t easy; there were buses and planes involved. Skipping the first night of Twangfest however was easy, unlike most of the alt-country world, I don’t worship Alejandro Escovedo.

So was it worth it? Absolutely. Especially since a disappointingly and surprisingly small crowd made it even more important that someone stand up front and make some noise. Luckily, that was pretty easy for me to do. I’m generally not a fan of girl singers, but over time Sarah Borges has certainly won me over. In fact, she makes it impossible not to like her. She’s gorgeous and sassy with a sharp wit and enviable fashion sense, but most important she totally rocks. The pace of her banter, a hypnotic sort of sing-song, is warm and friendly and you feel like friends within the space of a few songs. The fact that the songs are half kick-ass rockers and half sweet, sensitive ballads cements the deal. The rest of the band is equally easy to love, from the new guy, charming and handsome young guitarist Lyle Brewer, to the never-miss-a-beat extremely huggable rhythm section of Rob Delaney and Binky.

I’d heard tales of this band but had somehow missed their first two shows. Local singer-songwriters Blake Thomas and Josh Harty along with fellow Classic Tawny Chris Sasman have joined forces with multi-instrumentalists Chris Waggoner and Mary Gaines. The resulting band is a killer. Already the best songwriter I know, Blake’s songs gain extra depth with Mary’s cello and Chris’s violin (or mandolin, or accordion). Flatlands’ “Cabin Car” in particular seemed reinvented by this band. Sassy’s tom-heavy syncopation gave it a gravity and desperation only hinted at previously, while Josh’s “What About You” became even more haunted.

The formula seemed simple enough, on Josh’s songs where Blake already knows the bass part, Gaines adds her poignant cello, and when Josh plays lead guitar on Blake’s songs she strums the acoustic bass. It all seemed so seamless. When Mary confessed later that she still doesn’t know what they are doing, I found it hard to believe. Or maybe that is the key.

The Blake Thomas & Josh Harty Band

Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles

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