Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday Night Music

I went to the Iota Club in Arlington Saturday night to check out Eilen Jewell and her band. Eilen (pronounced EEE-len) is a Boise-born, Boston-based singer who plays rockabilly-based, bluesy-country roots music. Many of her influences are quite evident in her recordings, and she proudly pays tribute by covering some of them in her live shows, including a standout version of Billie Holiday's "Fine and Mellow", a foot-stomping rendition of Loretta Lynn's "The Darkest Day", and an exquisite cover of the Van Morrison/Them song "I'm Gonna Dress in Black", which beautifully showcases her powerhouse vocals. Instrumentally the sound is lean and spare, with guitarist Jerry Miller, drummer Jason Beek, and upright bassist Johnny Sciascia ably providing backing for Jewell's bold, and often dark, lyrics. I don't think Jerry Miller is the great former Moby Grape guitarist of the same name, though his age would seem approximately the same.

The crowd of about 100 in the small club clearly had a great time, though it made me wonder how a 4 person band can support a nationwide tour playing clubs that small.

Eilen has released three solo albums, including her most recent "Sea of Tears" released about a month ago. The title track has been released as a single, and you can check out the video version of it below. Also included here is a video of Eilen and the band performing a medley of Bessie Smith tunes entitled "If You Catch Me Stealing". Please check out Eilen and her band if they come to a venue near you. They will be touring throughout the summer, and a list of dates can be found at her website. If you like what you see (and hear), her records can be purchased through her website, or online at I-Tunes.

Oh, and Rex, a piece of trivia for you - Eilen attended St. John's College in Santa Fe.

Eilen Jewell, Sea of Tears

Bessie Smith Medley, If You Catch Me Stealing

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