Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Water Callers

Our oldest son has been keeping track of opportunities to see a local duo, The Water Callers, since we first heard them at Cats Cradle during a benefit concert for Carrboro's FM station, WCOM. I blogged about that evening, where I felt The Water Callers were a standout act. Thursday evening they were playing at Caffe Driade, in Chapel Hill, and he intended to go hear them. I went along.

We sat outside, where the heat was being turned down by a gentle breeze. We drank delicious iced mocha lattes (his first iced coffee - he liked it) and waited for the music. Bart Matthews, one of The Water Callers, came up to talk to our son, calling him by name because he's been to see them more than once. He recalled me, as well - from a previous e-mail exchange. He advised us that next time we should try the coffee shakes, saying they are truly memorable.

Mark Cool played first, an unscheduled opportunity to hear another local singer/songwriter. His song, Foolish Dreams was something I felt I'd been meant to hear, given the way I've let my dreams go lately. I bought his CD at the end of the evening. Then, with some equipment jockeying, and some trouble with mosquitoes, The Water Callers took the small stone stage.

The Water Callers are a pleasure to watch and hear, as they play well written songs with energy, balance, and close harmonies. They write most of their material, and after listening to their set Thursday, I appreciate the way their writing styles blend. Both are good with words, music, and blending them - but they have different approaches. I'd say Bart Matthew's songs are more lyric and rhythm driven, with the words not only telling stories but often part of the percussion. And he is not at a loss for words, either, with well chosen, dense verses and refrains that often have variation as the song progresses. There's no unnecessary repetition in a Bart Matthews song, and they reward attention. Jason Fagg, on the other hand, flies his tunes more with the melody than with the poetic words. Lots of melisma and the kind of harmonic passages that make you think of spirituals, or gospel. The Water Callers blend these two styles and sets of songs into an enjoyable performance, with variety, humor, and balance. Their strength as musicians is in their guitar playing and timing, which are excellent, and in their vocal harmonies, which are close and unique. They also play drums and accordion on some numbers, keeping things changed up throughout the set. They also covered a few numbers, including a little known hymn ("from the back of the hymnal, where no one ever goes - but we went there") and a tune by Radiohead. Our oldest has been to see them three times in the last two months, and said he never knows what he's going to hear. He knows much of their CD by heart.

I bought a copy of the CD for myself (available at their website, as is access to their mailing list, so you can be informed of their performances) and I've been drawing and painting to it these last few days. Even away from my player the soundtrack in my head has been going back and forth between Mama and Magnolia. You can hear some of the CD on the website and see some video - check them out.
The bottle above contained a dark brew that helped me close the evening at Caffe Driade. The bottle says the following: "Brewed for Dixie Brewing Co. Inc. New Orleans, LA, by Joseph Huber Brewing Co., Monroe, WI." and in another spot (on the neck) it says, "The century-old Dixie Brewery was almost destroyed by hurricane Katrina, but restoration is underway. With the help of our friends, we're working hard to re-beer New Orleans and the rest of the country." It was a good, lush lager, just like I'd expect from Louisiana.

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