The Indy Hostel
Friday, March 25
The WhiskeyBreath Travelers: NYC Singer-Songwriter Show and Review got a jump-start at the Indy Hostel (www.indyhostel.us/) last Friday with an intimate, early hour show, solicited as "the secret show." It could have been considered a preview for their Radio Radio appearance and in-store at Luna last Saturday, but it was a full-on gig by the five-piece team. The audience to musician ratio was equal: one musician per audience member. Considering the Hostel is a homey 1925 four-square, this truly felt like a casual house party with pals, beer and food.
Alex Lowry, Liz Clark, Jeremiah Birnbaum and Tessa Perry performing with The WhiskyBreath Travelers at the Indy Hostel last Friday night.
The WhiskeyBreath music collective (New York City singer-songwriters Jeremiah Birnbaum, Rick Royale, Alexander Lowry, Tessa Perry and Liz Clark) were in town to raise funds for "Band Together," a program that benefits Indianapolis Public Schools music programs. Information about the program can be found at www.WhiskeyBreath.com. Started by Lowry and Royale, WhiskeyBreath is the name of their weekly singer/songwriter venture started at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bar to rave reviews.
"Where's the tambourine?" Jeremiah asked Liz during the set.
"In the LL Bean bag," she responded, setting the mood for the casualness of this performance, where not only did the musicians trade instruments but also shifted seats from the couch to the over-stuffed chair to the stools by the sound gear where the LL Bean bag sat. The mood only highlighted the songwriting talents, camaraderie and beautiful harmonies these guys struck together.
The group also took turns with each other's own songs and lead vocals. Liz Clark (www.lizclarkmusic.com) took the mic for her song "Junkyard Dog," an easy feel tune where the gang kicked in on the chorus. Liz is "America's Next Top Model": gorgeous, radiating genuine happiness that translated into sincere delivery of her lyrics. Her strong, sharp voice is hardly the thing of folk, but more a Shirley Manson meets Linda Perry kind of rock-soul sound that's garnered her opening act gigs for Counting Crows and Dan Fogelberg. But all of the WBs are accomplished.
Rick Royale (www.rickroyale.com) has opened for such notables as No Doubt, Little Richard, Dwight Yoakam and Kara's Flowers - known now as Maroon5. Rick's performance demeanor was that of a seasoned pro, and the weeny-sized audience was captivated.
"These are organic versions of my songs. You can hear all the subtleties," Alex Lowry (www.myspace.com/Lowry) said as he positioned himself with his guitar to start a song. Uniquely melodic, vulnerable and alluring, his atypical voice recalled Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. He plays Radio Radio again on May 9.
Jeremiah Birnbaum, (www.jeremiahbirnbaum.com), who was in town last fall for the Midwest Music Summit, completed this quintet, along with the amazing Tessa Perry (www.tessaperry.com), who has toured with the Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco. Outfitted in her black pinstriped fedora and pants, this banjo-toting girl from Gloucestershire had an angelic, rather mesmerizing voice that fused soul with grace. This evening of spontaneous and collaborative music making by WhiskyBreath was a delight. Check out their Web sites, listen to their music, buy their CDs and attend their local shows.