Monday, January 14, 2013

Birds Of A Feather: Jennifer O'Connor/Chris Brokaw live

12 JANUARY, 2013
In the midst of a brief co-headlining West Coast tour, Jennifer O'Connor and Chris Brokaw landed in LA, setting up shop at Eagle Rock's Permanent Records for an afternoon in store before the evening's main event at the Bootleg Theater. The diversity of the day pretty much encapsulated the run of dates, which included the Olympia Library and the previous evening's gig in a Merced living room, (which was pronounced by O'Connor as one of the best gigs thus far).
The in store was fun and intimate, with a handful of toddlers rocking out down in front to enliven the proceedings. O'Connor led off, and a few songs, including a sublime "Hidden Hills" from her latest, I Want What You Want, was joined by Brokaw.  After a short break, Brokaw took center stage, starting acoustically, then switching to electric, (sending the toddlers scurrying), stilling the room with "The Apetites", the centerpiece from last year's Gambler's Ecstasy. O'Connor returned to help finish off the proceedings.  A perfect taster for the evening ahead-many thanks to Permanent LA for hosting.
Jennifer O'Connor, NYC based singer/songwriter, is currently working on her fifth album.  She made a splash with The Color and the Light on Red Panda in 2005. Subsequent LP's Over The Mountain, Across The Valley, and Back To The Stars, (2006), and Here With Me, (2008), saw her deepening her sound, and 2011's I Want What You Want was released on her own Kiam Records.
Chris Brokaw cut his teeth in the Boston scene, drumming with Codeine, then moving to guitar with Come for four albums in the 90's. Afterwards he became a go-to sideman for countless musicians, and branched out into soundtracks and collaborations, also making time for solo albums Incredible Love and, most recently, Gambler's Ecstasy. Having recently relocated to Seattle, hopefully we'll be seeing more of him. Interestingly, both artists spent time at Matador Records, although in different decades.
The action shifted over to the Bootleg, with Brokaw opening and once again splitting his set between acoustic and electric, and there upon managing to drown out a particularly conversational crowd.  "Danny Borracho" more than did the job, and O'Connor lent evocative harmonies to "Into The Woods."  Casting aside brute objectivity, Brokaw's dipping into the back pages for his Come song "Recidivist" reduced me to a tiny puddle of Wayne.  Starker and even more menacing done solo, if that could be possible.
O'Connor took the closing spot for the evening and ran with it, sticking heavily with the latest album, and also previewing a new song from an album due in the fall.  In the middle of her set, she brought out Brokaw, and he spun ghostly twangy lines that made her "Always In Your Mind", from Here With Me, one of the high points of the evening.  Finishing up on her own, she negotiated audience requests, diplomatically settling on one in her comfort zone.  With her final pair of songs, she let the audience have the tempo choice: slow/fast or fast/slow.  The audience went with the latter, and it was on a haunting note that the night ended. It was a fulfilling night from two artists executing their own visions, and striking sparks when they played together. It would be interesting to see where an album together would take them...

Lucy, House Dog at the Bootleg

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