January 10, 2013

Making Noise: Rustic and Kenya just two of many reasons to brave cold

Bundle up and head out for some great entertainment.

By Aimsel Ponti aponti@pressherald.com
News Assistant

I'm ready for action with my new massive red plaid parka. Point being, there's no excuse to let old man winter keep you from leaving the house. If I can muster up, so can you. And you know something? It's worth it. Look down for black ice and look up for icicles, and know that even your galoshes can become dancing shoes.

click image to enlarge

After Kenya Hall’s Stevie Wonder night performance at The Big Easy, she was booked by NAACP state director Rachel Talbot Ross to perform Jan. 21 at the annual breakfast celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Courtesy photo

TURN YOUR RADIO DIAL to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top live music picks for the week with the Captain and Celeste.

Did I almost slip and fall on my way from the car to The Big Easy? Yep. And two nights in a row, no less. The first was a recent Friday night to see Sara Hallie Richardson's stellar set accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Andrew Scherzer. Hey Sara, please be sure to put that new song "All or Nothing" on your next album, OK? Much obliged.

Richardson set the stage for the second sold-out show of the week by Rustic Overtones, which was back in action to perform its entire "Rooms By the Hour" album, along with a mess of other songs. Truth be told, I faded like a dashboard rose and only made it through the first five songs, but I can tell you that double-fretted guitar wielding singer Dave Gutter and the rest of the band sounded terrific. And man alive, the crowd was all kinds of into it.

The very next night, I had dinner at the bar on the final night of Figa Restaurant. There, I enjoyed an amazing chicken cordon bleu and a lengthy chat about favorite concerts and the like with local musicians Mr. Spencer Albee and Mr. Zach Jones. Expect a new album from Albee this year, and if you haven't picked up Jones' soulful masterpiece "Things Were Better," there's no time better than now.

From there, it was back to the Easy for the third annual Stevie Wonder night, led by singer Kenya Hall and a crazy talented band. "Knocks Me Off My Feet" and "Sir Duke" were among some of my favorite songs performed. But if I'm gonna be honest, I'd have to say in no uncertain terms that they all were.

Hall's voice is that good and her band, including Fogcutters sax player Brian Graham and percussionist/beat-box maniac Chas Lester, made for a "I didn't leave 'til the end" kind of night. Wow. Guest vocals by Jones and Mr. Lyle Divinsky added to the perfection of the show. Thanks, Kenya. I already can't wait for next year's show.

But that's not all. Standing next to us at the Wonder show was none other than Rachel Talbot Ross, the state director of the NAACP. She was so impressed with Hall's performance that she booked her right there on the spot to perform at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast celebration on Jan. 21. (naacpportland.org) And speaking of MLK, Lady Zen and several local choirs will be performing at Merrill Auditorium on Jan. 21 for the annual gospel concert. Those tickets are only 10 bucks. (porttix.com)

And speaking of Merrill Auditorium, I've started practicing for the Feb. 1 "Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music." Sure, it's a few weeks away, but if you're like me, you need all the help you can get, so I'm mentioning it now.

So far, the only part I feel good about is the "yo-do-la-he-ho" line from "The Lonely Goatherd." Maybe it's simply that my shower has good acoustics. I'm still working on that "brown paper packages tied up with string" business, but will be skipping "Climb Every Mountain" altogether. You can thank me later.

Those tickets are $14. (porttix.com)

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:



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