As I’d predicted in my e-mail, it was cold outside, bitterly cold in fact, but warm and cozy in the basement. It had been just over a year since Loves It! last played at the house, and a few things have changed since then. They were no longer driving the distinctive ninja RV they had the last time they were in town, thanks to an accident that left their belongings strewn across the Interstate, and which Jenny Parrott, half of the duo, swears left her stupider than before. The new RV was packed with their belongings and their dog Boxie because after the last dates of this tour they were moving to Nashville. It sounds like a cliché, but it seems music city is reclaiming some of its mojo, stealing singer songwriters back from Austin. Another not as obvious change was that they have gotten even better since the last time, so I’m not buying the head injury story. Sorry Jenny.
Like her previous band, the always excellent Shotgun Party, Loves It! is defined by Parrott’s voice. Interesting and unique, it lies somewhere on a scale between sultry and cartoonish. The best part is that it fits her perfectly. Her love of life is infectious and she is always a delight to be around. She is perfectly complimented by her partner Vaughn Walters. Quiet and handsome with a smile that lights up a room, his voice blends just as well with Parrott’s as her old bandmate Katie Rose’s did. And it works well for their “gather around the mike” style of playing. They use only one microphone, old timey style, stepping in closer to sing and play. Both play guitar, but Vaughn also will grab the banjo from time to time, while Jenny has gotten progressively better on the fiddle. They played a selection of new songs and songs featured on their debut record Yay! (they definitely like the exclamation points in this band). The most memorable of these is the dinosaur song, with its fun chorus of “I’m going extinct like a dinosaur.”
The three members of opening band Winn Dixie are all registered Kentucky Colonels. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but their de facto leader Andy Moore (who also hosts Wisconsin Public Television’s 30 Minute Music Hour) does seem to enjoy referring to himself as Colonel Moore. I’d seen them several times before under less than ideal listening conditions, a happy hour show at the High Noon, a noisy night at Mickey’s and a show early on at the Harmony when they had all kinds of sound problems Tonight’s set was much better, and I understood how their Wednesday night Southern dinners have gotten so popular. They also have that down home, organic charm that Loves It! has, they mike their instruments instead of plugging them in and use the guitar, fiddle and ukulele for originals and Appalachian folk songs. After all the music that Colonel Moore has shared with me, it was nice to be able to do something for him. The two bands made for a great bill, just as he had suggested.