Monday, 26 August 2013

Carrie Rodriguez - Henry Tudor House, Shrewsbury Sunday 25th August 2013

One of the delights for touring American artists is the opportunity to play in some of the increasingly quirky venues that are beginning to host live music on an intimate basis. You can now add to this list the rather splendid Henry Tudor House in Shrewsbury which no doubt pre-dates the European discovery of the New World and proved a popular stopping off point for Carrie Rodriguez on her latest tour of these isles. The decision to go head to head with the town’s popular folk festival on a Bank Holiday weekend didn’t deter the organisers and a sell out audience fully justified the decision to embrace the talents of an artist bestowed with immense beauty, vocal, fiddle playing and song writing ability.

Carrie is no stranger to the UK with many previous visits in differing formats but she now seems settled in operating as a duo with Luke Jacobs who worked closely with her on the latest album GIVE ME ALL YOU GOT. Not surprising, this fine release featured prominently in the set with the evening of Carrie and Luke being solely on stage bookended by the album’s opening and closing tracks ‘Devil in Mind’ and ‘I Don’t Mind Waiting’. After the latter was beautifully performed, the audience had a treat of the duo being joined on stage for an impromptu jam with US bluegrass band Barnstar who had just been playing the nearby festival. Two members of the band aided Carrie with a banjo/fiddle instrumental before the entire ensemble led by esteemed singer-songwriter Mark Erelli joined the duo for a rousing finale of the Hank Williams standard ‘I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry’.

There is surely no finer fiddle player on the Americana circuit than Texan born and bred Carrie, although Amanda Shires and Kendel Carson run her close, and even when she occasionally picks up the guitar you get the feeling that this is a mere interlude until the fiddle returns. The interaction with Luke whether on electric, acoustic, harmonica or lap steel, is an endearing quality of their show of which you can throw into the mix a range of top songs comprising both originals and well-interpreted covers. The latter included the sublime John Prine track ‘Unwed Fathers’ and the song which catapulted Tammy Wynette to the top of the charts ‘I Don’t Want to Play House’.

To have a stand out album track enhanced with a live performance is no mean feat but Carrie and Luke pulled that off with ‘Lake Harriet’ from the latest record. Also from this release ‘Sad Joy’ came across well, as Carrie introduced it with a heart warming story of an encounter at a Ray Lamontagne concert. The impressive vocals of Carrie exude class into the songs and when Luke stepped forward to sing an original titled ‘Margarit’ which put a little bit of country into the opera, he displayed a talent that had been hidden away on their previous UK visit. The pair also previewed a first airing of a new song potentially titled ‘Trouble’ which looks set to feature on a new release in the future.

The appreciative crowd in this elegant music room housed in the loft space of this historic building thoroughly enjoyed the two-set show and those who were previously aware of Carrie could sample a spread of music from across a number of her albums. The 2006 SEVEN ANGELS ON A BICYCLE proved a popular source for songs including the Mary Gauthier co-write ‘Absence’ and the title track inspired by the loss of a close friend. Regardless of the material, Carrie is blossoming as a performer and the inventive way she interprets country, roots and Americana music is a joy to behold.

Long may venues such as the Henry Tudor House spring up to host a style of music which will no doubt remain undiscovered to the masses but still retain a breathtaking quality to treasure and nurture carefully. Carrie Rodriguez is a valuable and established member of this scene and it is of sincere hope that many more people will enjoy her continued visits in the future. 

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