Another Lovely Evening Under the Stars at the Lowell Summer Music Series
This summer’s weather has been amazing so far – no shows have been forced to move indoors at the Lowell Summer Music Series. Saturday’s Howie Day and Carbon Leaf show provided another wonderful evening under the stars at Boarding House Park.
This was a co-bill with each act performing full sets separate from each other; they are not touring together. It was a smart move on the part of the Series, since the overlap between each act’s fan base is small.
Howie Day was first to the stage. He is a singer-songwriter originally from Maine who won a Boston Music Award for best debut album when he was 20 years old.
He started his set alone on stage, and performed a couple of songs before bringing out a cellist and keyboard player. I loved this combination of instruments; to my ears, they complemented each other perfectly.
At first, I was a bit taken aback by all the effects he was producing with (I presume) a computer but as I listened to what he did, I found I enjoyed it tremendously. He sang or played a phrase and recorded a loop of it, which gave the impression that he had a much larger band than the three pieces on stage. This was not electronic music though, merely digitally enhanced. It worked for me.
In addition to his biggest hit, ‘Collide’, he played songs from all three albums as well as at least one new song. About a third of the way through the set, he realized he was playing from their rehearsal set list! It was a brutally honest moment that endeared him to me.
Following his set, Carbon Leaf took the stage. They are a roots rock, alt-country, Celtic influenced band from Virginia who have appeared at the Series in the past. I felt that much of the audience was there specifically to see this band.
They came on stage ready to rock us, and they succeeded at that. I saw some serious chair dancing throughout their set, although not many people got to their feet to dance (at least that I noticed from my seat down front).
The large stage suited their music well because they were able to move around, letting each other get some center stage attention. Mostly, however, it was Barry singing lead who was front and center most of the evening.
The members of Carbon Leaf are Barry Privett on vocals, penny whistle, bagpipes, and hand percussion; Terry Clark on guitar and vocals; Carter Gravatt on guitar, mandolin, vocals, and fiddle (and at least one other instrument that he played like a cello but it did not look like any cello I’ve seen); Jason Neal on drums; and Jon Markel on bass. These are five terrific musicians!
About two-thirds of the way through the set they put a ‘Grand Ole Opry mic’ on the stage and performed a number of songs around it. Barry told us he’d see how it went because that kind of mic doesn’t do well outdoors, in their experience. I thought they sounded great! Their harmonies are fantastic, and singing around this style of mic emphasized them.
Their best known song, ‘Life Less Ordinary’, came early in the set. They played songs from throughout their 20+year career, including some songs from their 2013 release, ‘Constellation Prize’ (I love that title). Their style is wide-ranging; some songs are clearly Celtic while others are true roots rock songs which seem to have ties to many styles.
For their encore, they invited children under ten to the stage to dance. A half-dozen or so kids ran to the stage, most clearly excited to be there, where they stayed for the three or four songs that comprised the encore. Barry handed each child a CD which they clutched as if it was gold.
This show was lengthier than the usual show at the Series because each act performed a full set, but hardly anybody left early. I would enjoy seeing more of this type of billing at the Series because there is the potential for a much larger audience, drawing from two bands’ fan bases.
Even though it was a bit chilly by the time Carbon Leaf performed their encore, the music warmed our bodies and souls.
Posted on September 6, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Barry Privett, Boarding House Park, boston, Carbon Leaf, Carter Gravatt, concert review, Howie Day, Jason Neal, Jon Markel, Lowell Summer Music Series, music, roots rock, Terry Clark. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.