Pictures and words by Duane Clawson
The bar. They took the whole effin’ bar. Okay, they didn’t take the whole bar but its size had been greatly reduced. Apparently Off Broadway chose to do some remodeling since I last covered a show in July. During my extended wait, as Daredevil Christopher Wright had canceled,I quizzed my bartender on the changes at Off Broadway, she said they had considered a bar reduction for some time to increase seating capacity. Alright, enough about the bar. Let’s talk music.
Scarlet Tanager, “a medium-sized American songbird”, in this instance a band, kicked off this night of music with their fresh brand of folk music. The band was formed in 2010 in St. Louis by the husband and wife duo of Susan and Michael Logsdon. But Scarlet Tanager does not one but two husband and wife teams in the band as Josh and Jordan Shepherd share duties on keyboards and guitar. The fifth wheels of this large band are Matt Davidson on drums and Dustin Kent on bass. At times on stage, the chemistry between Susan and Michael is very noticeable on a personal and professional level. At one point during their set, the duo shared a microphone, a moment reminiscent of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in a folksy kind of way. I have to give kudos to this band for producing a very cool video for their song “Tumbleweed”, which can be seen here. Being a fan of music in general, I love a band that dust off a classic and reintroduces it to the world as Scarlet Tanager does with a song I had never heard before, Patsy Cline’s “Gotta Lot of Rhythm”. They did an excellent job of recreating this classic. If you’re interested their latest effort American Songbird, it can be had at their Bandcamp.
The folksy theme of the evening continued with Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps, who have made a great musical journey in a very short span of time. With humble beginnings in Minnesota, the band put out their first album in 2008 with Backyard Tent Set. Since their 2008 debut, the band has managed seven national tours and if that kind of touring doesn’t get your name out there, I don’t know what will. I really love the casualness in this current insurgence of folk music and Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps do it keep it casual. As Miss Smith and the band took the stage, I noticed the setlist had been written on napkins, which told me that during Scarlet Tanager’s set, Miss Smith was at the merch table writing a setlist. Spontaneity. I love it. This show at Off Broadway was the sixth stop on their current tour in support of the new album Little Wind. Over half of the band's time on stage included material from the new album. It should also be mentioned that it was overheard that this their fourth visit to St. Louis this year. I think they like us.
They got the show going with “Closing the Doors”, a song that with its shuffling backbeat and toe tapping rhythms, immediately gets you interested in this band. “Lack of Height”, the second song performed by the band starts off with a keyboard piece that compliments Caroline’s lyric, which states “I’m dreaming of you”. This piece of music is something that might have fit well on an Edie Brickell album back in the day. Two songs I would like to recognize from the new album are “Calliope” and “Eagle’s Nest”, both of which were performed this night. These two songs represent this bands versatility. Be it “Calliope’s” up-tempo gallop or “Eagle’s Nest” opening acapella harmonies, this band switches gears without a hitch. As Caroline and the group were leaving the stage after performing “Denim Boy”, the cries of one more song began. The Goodnight Sleeps had left the stage leaving Caroline to do the encore solo. Caroline chose to do an excellent rendition of “She Ain’t Got It”, which created a great campfire sing a long vibe at Off Broadway. Even after four stops in St. Louis this year, there was a cry of one more before Caroline finished her encore. In this current era of prefabbed , cookie-cutter music, seeing shows like this are truly enjoyable. American bands searching for the American dream. Pictures and a video of the show are below:
Caroline Smith and Goodnight Sleeps
Contributed by Duane Clawson