Saturday, 5 November 2016

Carrie Rodriguez - Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Thursday 3rd November 2016

For one night only, Birmingham’s premier listening venue transformed itself into the Kitchen Garden Cantina as Carrie Rodriguez finally brought her sublime vocals, classically trained fiddle playing and sumptuous songs to the city. Previously she had appeared in neighbouring Wolverhampton in the days before she left the Chip Taylor protégé tag. Now fully blossomed into a multi-dimensional performer, Carrie tours with husband Luke Jacobs and together they are entering a rich vein of experimental form designed to give you the rounded ethnic diversity of Texas music.

The couple, now a family trio, have made Carrie’s hometown city Austin their home and it is her extended Hispanic roots which have fully inspired her latest record. Thus the wondrous cross border sound exploring the golden age of Mexican music filled the air at the Kitchen Garden this evening with no finer vocalist than Carrie to throw in a mix of Spanish, English and that hybrid language Spanglish. Several songs in this bi-lingual celebration were lifted off the album LOLA , released to widespread acclaim and fulfilling a lifelong dream for Carrie to explore her heritage in song.

There is something exotic and aurally pleasing listening to an array of songs with such titles as ‘Lana Estacado’, ‘Frio en al alma’ and ‘Que Manera de Perder’ in an intimate setting. To highlight the diversity, its seminal track ‘I Dreamt I Was Lola Beltran’ carries the soul of the record and another special moment was the bi-lingual duet with Luke. On a project that Carrie expressed much pride in, ‘The West Side’ stood out this evening aided by its backdrop story explaining the hidden issues growing up across the Austin divide such as lunch ticket names.

While on the subject of the Texas state capital, and before we reflect fondly on the older material Carrie played, ‘Austin’ was one of a number of songs written and played by Luke during the show – all to be found on his debut solo album VELVET AFTER FEEL. This had its origin in a tragedy at the city’s South By South West festival a few years ago and like so many of his songs, they were adorned in the classic singer-songwriter style synonymous with Texas. Ironically Luke doesn’t hail from the Lone Star State, but thousands of miles north in Minnesota.

To continue the geographical connection, one of that state’s attractions inspired Carrie to write and record ‘Lake Harriet’, personally considered one her finest songs in a catalogue now stretching back ten years. The superb live Music Fog video of this song has maintained its prominence long after the initial release. These older songs were no doubt highly anticipated by many long term Carrie fans in the audience and she rewarded their devotion which such gems as ‘Seven Angels on a Bicycle’, ‘She Ain’t Me’ and the fiery fiddle closer ‘Never Gonna Be Your Bride’.

Continuing the instrumental theme of the evening and alongside Carrie’s majestic mastering of the violin – so long her trademark skill – Luke’s delectable lap steel gave the sound a sublime coating. These instrumental interludes were shared with standard guitar playing ensuring each song was delivered with perfect accompaniment. Alongside the special tribute to a Minnesota lake mentioned previously, Carrie and Luke frequently delved into their 2013 album GIVE ME ALL YOU GOT with the edgy ‘Devil in Mind’ just shading pre-encore selection ‘I Cry For Love’ in the appreciation sphere.

On an evening where Carrie didn’t hold back on her joy and fascination of playing this intimate venue for the first time, she was also humbled by the support given to her in the making process of LOLA by folks in the UK. With this being the first date of a much anticipated countrywide tour, golden opportunities are open for many fans, old and new, to be seduced by the sheer delight of seeing Carrie Rodriguez play music and sing songs. More temporary cantinas are likely to spring up before she and Luke head back home to Austin.

Thanks to Andy D. for the photos.

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