The Kennedys & Naked Blue @ The Hamilton, Washington DC - August 19, 2012.
The first of two husband and wife duos that both feature female lead vocals and acoustic guitar, with male backing vocals and electric and acoustic guitar. This duo did have a guest cellist sitting in on all but the last couple of songs.
This is the first time I have seen this Baltimore area band and they were a fine starter for the excellent headliner to come. The core of this was solid modern folk songs, but the arrangements were quite rich and occasionally delicate. The electric guitar had a spacey quality with the cello adding another quiet layer in the background. This gave breadth to the voice and acoustic work which filled this big club with an airy strength.
I would certainly recommend this duo for folk fans, especially those that want a little bit more skill in the arrangement department than that of the standard singer songwriter acts.
If you don't enjoy this amazing duo, you must really make a habit of wearing blinders as you search for a very limited musical genre. These two create magic onstage for folkies and rockers.
Maura Kennedy could easily exist as a solo artist with her quality folk songs, strong voice, enthusiastic personality, and effective acoustic guitar strumming. She can command a stage all on her own. But why do that when your husband is a brilliant guitar stylist with a great voice of his own. The word fiery is appropriate for his style, yet does not quite give the correct image of the smooth way he plays and the steady tone that develops. He can produce sixteenth notes flying around the scale that have the same effect as a delicate chord.
They had a good sized crowd tonight which was much bigger than could fit in the Jammin Java where they last played. Although the coffeehouses are great to see this band, it is nice to see them drawing more fans. They chose to play the new album in its entirety for their first set and to 'make it up to us', do a second set of all requests which they would work out with the audience during the break.
The new album sounded excellent and the only thing that lacked was the eclectic stylistic shifts that their normal sets have. But of course, all of that was there in the second set. With the new songs, the sound they created was assured and quietly powerful reminding me more of some of my European favorites like the Balladeers or Alison and David Williams (of Flibbertigibbet and Mellow Candle).
With the second set, it was several covers and more shifts from Americana to psyche folk to guitar showcases. They covered Jimmy Webb and Gram Parsons before they went more into my favorite territory with their stunning version of "Eight Miles High" and "A Day in the Life". I also enjoyed the 'name that tune' riff portion where he quickly put together a few seconds from Bouree, Satisfaction, Paint it Black, Roundabout and more. Playful one moment and serious the next as they finally finished the encore with one of their own, "Stand".
That is how they do things and with their amazing skills and personalities, it is why each show will have a few more people in attendance joining those that don't want to ever miss a single show.
First published @ dcrocklive.blogspot.com.
Photo Credits: (1) Naked Blue, (2) The Kennedys (unknown).