May 22, 2010
There's no easy way to sum up FemmeFest in short order... there are so many talented bands and artists to see, so many venues that you just have to do the best you can to take it all in.
First, a lot of credit has to be given to Joe and Lea Kuhlmann and everyone involved at the venues for all of the hard work in putting the event together.
My day started out around 5:30 as I caught a bit of the Southern folk style of Ang Medlin who was on stage at the Evening Muse for the NSAI Songwriters showcase. From the looks of it, she, Sara Scott and Liz Howell were performing in a rotating cast with a backup band. I caught a brief bit of Valorie Miller on stage at the Neighborhood Theatre before heading back to the Outdoor Stage by Salvador Deli to see the Jill Dineen Band.
Dineen has a great presence that dominates the stage during her bluesy, soulful songs. Her powerful voice demands attention while sings of the trials and tribulations of heartbreak and heartache.
I then headed into Dolce Vita to see Bridgit Scheide. She's another local talent that wasn't solo this time around as she was joined by a keyboardist that also added brief hints of harmony from time to time.
From there, I wandered back to the Evening Muse to catch Rachel VanSlyke opening her set by singing a dueted "Star Spangled Banner." Her quirky style of folk was at my back as I headed to see the next band.
The Near Misses were having a reunion of sorts on the stage at the Neighborhood Theatre. The ladies' were still in fantastic harmony as they took turns leading vocals.
Emily Lynch was performing for a small crowd at Smelly Cat Coffeehouse another example of how much talent is in this town that, even after three years, I haven't nearly seen it all.
By 7 p.m., I was wandering past Dolce Vita again to catch a brief bit of Natalie Royal's set. It was great to once again see her in town on break from college where you can readily hear that life there has done her songwriting well. She continues to show more and more maturity through experience and her talent is sure to serve her well. Her mother tells me that she may be spending a lot more time in Nashville, but the Charlotte area hopes she'll be back to perform from time to time, if that's the case.
From there, it was back to the Outdoor Stage to see Jill Andrews. She has an amazing voice that goes incredibly well with her songwriting talents. Her set was an early highlight of the day.
Taking the stage at 7:30 p.m. at The Evening Muse was Underhill Rose, two ladies who were formerly in Barrell House Mamas. Their experience shines through as much as their vocal talent and abilities in songwriting captivating the small audience and exuding comfort in their new band. Another artist to keep your eyes and ears on for the next time they're in town.
Capping off the trifecta for me was The Mieka Canon the band of Mieka Pauley who impressed me at last year's FemmeFest and once again showed impressive vocals and can easily bring a chill as she releases power and emotion in her voice.
Wavy Space took to the Outdoor Stage as night was falling in NoDa. Showing off a new hairdo, singer Shana Blake didn't look like the Near Misses gig took anything out of her as she got her groove on for the band's funky folk.
Amelia's Mechanics were on stage at the Evening Muse now a duet, the band had a temporary fill-in for keyboards/accordion and saw for the evening. The saw added a eerie vibe to the band's music, but the dual guitars and harmonies remain intact.
Meanwhile, at the Neighborhood Theatre, Doria Roberts was offering up her own brand of soulful folk music.
Another band using a saw the folk of Gretel was hitting the stage at The Muse and I was starting to slow down the pace a bit. A number of bands were beginning their second sets of the night at new venues and I was slowly making my way around.
I briefly saw Jill Andrews and Underhill Rose again before making my way to Smelly Cat Coffeehouse to see Sy Arden.
I briefly stopped in at Green Rice Gallery to see a song by Carrie Marshall and check out some works of art before heading back outside to see The Alpha Theory on stage.
Singer Joceyln Ellis gains more confidence and comfort on stage each time I see her. Like the name change, the band has gelled a bit more to offer something a bit more cohesive on stage.
By this time, I was nearly out of energy. I caught a brief bit of the bluesy rock of Amy Broome on the outside stage around 11:30 p.m.
I made my way back to the Muse to see some of the second set by Jill Dineen Band and a bit more of Sy Arden's performance before calling it a night around 1 a.m.
It was a long day full of great music that added a few more artists to my musical radar that I hope to be seeing more of in the future.
For the first time in years, I feel confident that there will be new music…