Club Passim in Boston is an intimate affair: in terms of room, it’s not very large, made even more limited with tables and dining that offers vegan fare from the "Veggie Planet" restaurant integrated within this rathskeller. The audience as a result is generally older than one would expect to see frequenting bars, but with none of the pomp expected from formal performances at Lincoln Center or an opera house. If anything, it resembles the same atmosphere as VH1’s Storytellers: intimate, interactive, and friendly. Only this was not a captive studio audience and there was only one guy running around with a camera trying to convince the audience not to pay attention to him.
Wednesday, October 3rd’s trip to Club Passim – under the veil of mist that gives New England the emphasis on ‘England’ – brought three songwriters together to share their music: Adrienne Gonzalez, Garrison Starr, Maia Sharp, accompanied with guitarist Linda Taylor. They have worked together, and it shows in their clarity of harmony and the tales they spun of musical rapports and quips. Topics ranged from the origin of songs, to the presidential debate that ran simultaneously with their performance, to laundry, to Starr’s latent cold, Gonzalez’s lack of ethnic dialect, everyone else’s abuse of the ethnic dialect and how its misuse went from Cuban to Charlie Chan… Light jokes that gave Club Passim a different connotation during those breaks between songs.
The music came from each artist in a sort of story-go-round (song-go-round?) that told of different things, but mostly on the strongest of emotions. Songs of love, of dependence, of trials, of strength: the basest wellsprings of every songwriters’ foundations told through lyrics about bank robbers, superheroes, dresses… some pieces ranged into embracing everyman ears with simpler lyrics but all emphasized their strength through honed musical prowess and shared vocal clarity, and a few reimagined songs of their fellow songwriters and The Beatles (mostly centered towards a gender-bending premise).
Like the songs, the three prompted their own game of musical chairs as each one took to a guitar or a tambourine or a piano effortlessly. Sharp even did one better by adding a sax to her mix with a few pieces that showed off a jazz/funk influence between the harder rock tinge that mingled with most of the pieces.
The night felt like it ended too soon, and for some it did: cries of "Encore!" ensued as they left the stage, and what else could they do but oblige? A few more songs later, the crowd left a few more tunes richer. One’s only hope is that with the clarity and focus one heard from their collaboration, that this is not the last time you hear these four working together, elections be damned.