Concert report: RELEASE THE CELLO

[ETA 1/13/2016: This was a guest post by Glenn ‘technoshaman’ Stone. Attribution lost when we recovered the site! – Administrator Anna]

I’ve been a fan of filk, folk-rock, and generally indie bands in the Pacific Northwet for 14 year and change, basically two weeks shy of how long I’ve been here.  A heck of a lot of them, though, have a common… thread isn’t the right word.  Strings.  Five of them, usually… which is unusual because your garden-variety cello has four.

But then, Betsy Tinney is no ordinary cellist… and last night I finally got to see her do something – well, several somethings, actually – that I’d been wanting to see for the vast majority of those 14 years.

The first one was release an album… the second one was actually *sell out* a show she was headlining… and the third surprised me, pleasantly.  Betsy almost always has a look of intense concentration when she plays, unless she’s just finished a solo and the crowd is reacting… but last night she was smiling mid-number, for the joy of playing.

To say the show was epic is to damn with faint praise.

The lineup was the tip of the iceberg:  Not just Betsy and Raven, her five-string Luis and Clark carbon-fiber beauty,  but Tricky Pixie bandmates S.J. Tucker and Alexander James Adams, Vixy and Tony, Sunnie Larsen, Marcos Duran, Jeri Lynn Cornish, her daughter Kaede Tinney, and Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff.  (Jeff engineered the album, and snuck some guitar parts into the bargain. 🙂

(Sadly, I don’t have a setlist, and the review would turn epic if I did’em all, so I’ll hit the highlights….)

Betsy started off solo, without preamble, with a haunting instrumental rendition of “For The Love of All Who Gather”… the program varied, from Betsy playing solo with her looper to Tricky Pixie to Vixy and Tony (and Sunnie) to Jeff and Maya both with and without Vixy… two sets’ worth!  Notables included “Alligator” (Tricky Pixie), “Gentle Storm” (solo), and “Dryad’s Promise”, which featured Kaede on vocals (Betsy’s comment here was she’d gotten tired of the song, but when she had Kaede sing it, she knew it was right).  (It was right, all right.  Kaede netted herself a standing ovation… 🙂

And then things got just a little bit nuts.  Third set?!  Yeah.  She did that.

Somewhere in there there was a duo with Jeff covering Leonard Cohen’s ever-popular “Hallelujah”, with Jeff throwing pixie-dust guitar licks all over Raven’s melody… Tricky Pixie got things pumping with an old-school-esque fiddle trio (“Chickies in the House / Napoleon’s Rant / Duncan’s Dance”) and then the last three… if it had been an organ concert, you would’ve heard thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk as they pulled out ALL the stops… for the first time in a LONG time Alec pulled out March of Cambreadth, and they built it up slowly with just the instruments before launching into the traditional chant.  Then it was EVERYBODY up for the “last song”, “Liberty Elephant”… three djembes, two guitars, two fiddles, bones, brushes, and of course  Betsy playing the lead riff as Sooj led the crowd in call-and-response….


Everybody onstage for "Liberty Elephant"
Everybody onstage for “Liberty Elephant”. Photo courtesy Sherry Kirk.

And of course we weren’t going anywhere without One More Song… something that, if you think about it, is found Doctor Who filk:  “Kashmir”, with Vixy filling in for Plant, Tony and Jeff ganging up for Page, and Kaede, Sooj, and Vixy taking Bohnam’s slot to Betsy’s JPJ, with backing help from Maya….

The house lights came up with the chant of “BETSY! BETSY!” still bouncing around the rafters.  I’ve never seen her smile that much.  Then again, it’s not often one’s debut album concert sells out to the doors…

The fourteen year wait?  Worth it.

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