An American Songster Enchants
The weather was not perfect (rain was threatening), but the setting was. A large crowd gathered in the Museum of Fine Arts‘ courtyard to see Dom Flemons perform for the first concert of the 2014 Concerts in the Courtyard series.
Dom defines songster as someone who plays and sings, and that certainly describes him. He does not describe himself as a musicologist, yet he is extremely knowledgeable about the history of American and African-American roots music; he obviously enjoys educating his audiences because he does it quite well.
Dom started the set by performing a number of songs alone, switching between banjo (which is the instrument I generally associate with him) and guitar; he added harmonica and quills as well.
He plays both songs he has written as well as songs written by well-known and not so well-known songsters from the past (Sonny Boy Williamson and Henry Thomas are some of the better-known songsters, Gus Cannon one of the lesser-known ones).
A new album is being released toward the end of this month, but Dom treated us to a preview of a number of songs from ‘Prospect Hill’. One of those songs is ‘Hot Chicken’, written about the hot chicken joints in East Nashville, Tennessee. I’m now excited to try some!
Ben and Joe are quite talented and provided wonderful support for Dom. During one of the encore (I believe) songs, Dom stopped playing and told us Ben wasn’t fiddling fast enough; when they restarted, Ben impressed me with his speed. He was fun to watch!
I was sitting close to the stage so I was able to truly feel Dom’s expressiveness. I think I captured some of that in my photographs.
Joe told us that Dom travels with some unusual banjos, including the largest banjo I have ever seen. It seemed to have a deeper pitch than the other banjos and I thoroughly enjoyed its sound.
During the encore, we were finally treated to Dom playing the bones; I have seen him play them in the past and it’s certainly the most unusual instrument I’ve seen him play.
Opening the show was Laney Jones & The Lively Spirits (only two-thirds of the Lively Spirits, however); Laney plays old-timey music as well as bluegrass, mostly songs she has written.
Laney is a witty songwriter, as evidenced in ‘Black Coffee’ and ‘I Am A Zombie’, two of the songs on her setlist for this show.
Supporting her for this show were fellow Berklee students Jacy Anderson on guitar and Lars Thorson on fiddle and mandolin.
The rain held off until a couple of minutes before the museum closed; the weather goddesses were certainly on our side!
Anyone who is interested in American music history and/or concerts by excellent musicians should see Dom (as well as Laney). I wouldn’t steer you wrong, would I?
Posted on July 3, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged American roots music, Ben Hunter, boston, Concert in the Courtyard, concert review, Dom Flemons, Joe Seamons, Laney Jones, Laney Jones & The Lively Spirits, Museum of Fine Arts, old-timey music. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.