Monday, January 17, 2011

Michael McGraw/ El Monte Slim/ The Black Swans @ Soda Bar- 01.13.11

After a prolonged trip back East for the holidays, it was good to return to SD for what is shaping up to be a great start to the live music scene in 2011. This year's show calendar started with a trip over to Soda Bar for a mellow evening with local acts Michael McGraw and El Monte Slim and a shorthanded The Black Swans, who were working their way west from their home base in Columbus, Ohio.

Singer/ songwriter Michael McGraw kicked off the evening joined by Chris Decatur on drums/ vox and Mark Lane on bass. Their set of what was apparently a mix of older and soon-to-be released tunes set the tone for the evening music-wise, though most of the sparse crowd made their way out the door after the openers finished up.

El Monte Slim followed up with their special brand of self-described 'wannabe country'. I had seen this duo open up for The White Buffalo a while back but unfortunately walked in about a song and a half before their night was over. This time around I was able to witness a full set and was not disappointed. Ian Trumbull's soothing vocals worked in perfect harmony with his guitar and Joe Camacho's pedal steel as they made their way through a proper set. The pedal steel did lend a certain 'good ol' boy' feel, but without the overbearing twang all too prominent in the majority of country music.

The Black Swans took the stage as a pared-down duo of Jerry DiCicca on vocals/ acoustic guitar/ harmonica and Tyler Evans on guitar/ banjo/electric lap steel. Touring as a follow up to last autumn's split 45" album they released with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, the duo eased into their set with DiCacca's distinct delivery, Evans' impressive skill set, tales of crossing the AZ/CA border checkpoint and a pseudo-reunion with a fellow midwesterner who turned out to be a friend of a friend of a friend of the band. Small world. Though the floor was all but empty at this point and I had free reign to wander as I pleased, The Black Swans' music lends itself much more to sitting at a table by yourself as you ruminate on a bad break up, think of your sick grandmother or cycle through life's intricacies while staring blankly into another empty beer bottle. It takes a special talent to generate that type of emotional reaction and they do it with impressive ease.

Michael McGraw:

El Monte Slim:

The Black Swans:

For more from the evening click here, and for the rest of my concert photography click here.

All Images copyright © Nate Vandermeulen, All Rights Reserved.
Please ask for permission before downloading or linking to them.

1 comment:

matt said...

nice pics.