When local musician Nick Brown advertised his happy hour show at the High Noon as a CD release, I was sure he must have been talking about a sophomore record. After all, the Kickstarter funded Slow Boat had arrived in the hands of its supporters back in August, and that was even several months after the predicted release date. Though I should have known with his first release titled Slow Boat, he wasn’t going to rush into his next effort.
I have to say though, this was a show worthy of a CD release. He started with the full band for a couple songs, then pared it back to just a duo with his Brown Derby bandmate Kyle Motor for a stripped down take on some new songs (so maybe there will be a second record, eventually…). I cannot lie, those songs sounded pretty sweet. Gradually the band returned, and at times he had as many as seven other musicians on stage with him, most of whom I knew. Another Brown Derbian, the always excellent Andrew Harrison, played lead guitar, while Pat Logterman of the Cork & Bottle String Band and the Dirty Shirts played upright bass. The only disappointment was that the latter didn’t have a microphone, his silly banter with the Dirty Shirts was always a highlight. In fact his only rival in that department is Brown himself who always has me shaking my head and cracking up. Keyboardist Rusty has been a little less busy musically since Josh Harty hit the road for a year, so it was nice to see him on stage.
The band reached its fullest potential when Evan Murdock, also a great singer songwriter, brought his mandolin to the stage, along with backing vocalists Amanda Rigell from the terrific Count This Penny who has a flat out gorgeous voice, and the only guy on stage I didn’t know. Rigell shines every time she opens her mouth, but she was particularly good on the duet “Hand in Hand.” Another highlight was “Feeling that Way” which Count This Penny also covers. My favorite song of his has always been “Melanie,“ a true and heartbreaking story of a crime of the heart prosecuted twenty years after the fact and comes from his newspaper days in New Hampshire, where moose in the road was usually the most exciting piece of news. It’s a sad and always affecting story. “Light Beer and Heavy Hearts,” the “only song I’ve ever written where I had the title first,” is as fun as the name would imply. Having only seen Brown solo before, it was a treat to see him with such an accomplished band. Despite only having two, oops, I mean one record to his name he had no trouble filling the two sets for this happy hour show, thanks to a cover or two like Mo Bandy’s silly-serious “Bandy the Rodeo Clown.” And of course Brown’s own hilarious ramblings.