You would think that getting a pick in the Isthmus would translate to at least a few more people at the show, but sadly that was not the case for Anders & Kendall. I could count the attendees on two hands and still have a few fingers left over. There was guy who came because he saw the pick, but he got there late and missed the whole show. He did pick up a few CDs at least. There was a lot going on tonight, BB King at the Overture, Kristen Hirsch at the High Noon. The latter surely had some effect on my show, and I admit I kept clicking the “win tickets” link in my weekly e-mail before remembering that I had someplace better to be that night. So it meant even more to me that a couple of guys who had been to the house a few times before picked this show to go see someone they didn’t know for the first time. At least somebody trusts me.
This was Anders Parker’s fifth time in the basement. The former Varnaline frontman has never drawn big crowds, but he seems to really like playing here, and thankfully keeps coming back. Five times is enough to put him solidly in second place on the leader board (though “first loser” was probably not the right way to phrase it), but still far behind Jon Dee Graham who will play his ninth show in July. Parker had a very good reason to be on tour this time, his record with Kendall Meade (of the band Mascot) was released earlier this year, and I’ve already named Wild Chorus the year’s prettiest record. Meade has sung on every record Parker has put out since Varnaline’s swan song Songs in a Northern Key. This record has inherent sweetness to it, a joyful passion, and Parker said it was the first time he’s been able to successfully co-write songs with someone.
They opted to play unplugged, as they have most of the house concerts on this tour, which also included several club dates. Given the size of the crowd, unplugged was just fine, but it meant that Meade especially would have to project to be heard over Parker and the guitar. Not being tethered to microphones gave them the freedom to move around during the set, and they spent much of facing each other and their relaxed camaraderie was obvious and infectious. For most of the night Parker played guitar, and Meade sang, occasionally picking up a tambourine. Unlike most singers with nothing to play and no mike to hide behind, she looked perfectly comfortable. There were a couple songs where they both played guitar and those seemed even more special.
I’d have to go back and check the rack listing, but I feel like they did most of the songs on Wild Chorus. The exuberant “I’m Not Ready” with its inherent stick-in-your-headiness may be the best of these, though it may be a tie with the passionate album opener “We’re on Fire.” I had included that video with the e-mail announcing the show. Apparently not many people watched it or there would have been more folks here, it’s that catchy. To round out the material they played a Mascot song or two and ended with the title track to the best of Parker’s solo records “Tell It to the Dust” for an encore. I wish everyone could have seen it.