BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
The last time the fabulons were out in force was some 17 months ago, so the pandemic quarantine put the kibosh on this column (among many other social things). After all, there was no room to “work,” and “Bobby Karl Works the Zoom,” just didn’t seem right.
This week, that changed. Bobby Karl has returned.
“Isn’t it great to be among other people again, fully vaxed?” commented Kristi Rose. “Doesn’t it feel wonderful to hug people again?” added Regina McCrary.
The occasion was a magical night of music at City Winery on Monday (June 28). The event was the record-release party/concert by Amythyst Kiah, plus a celebration of the new album by Allison Russell. Both women are in the acclaimed collective Our Native Daughters. Both women are Tennesseans (Allsion is a Nashvillian). Both are Americana Music Award Emerging Artist nominees this year. (Our Native Daughters is up for Group of the Year).
Kristi was sitting in the crowd with her gifted, multi-instrumentalist hubby Fats Kaplan. Regina was with her gifted, soul-singing siblings The McCrary Sisters. The Winery audience was also populated by Jon Freeman, Hunter Kelly, Brenda Colladay, Craig Havighurst, Yola (who memorably guested on stage during Allison’s set), Matt Leimkuehler, Linda Endres, Jerry Treacy, Jon Keen, Robert McMillan, B.J. Griffith, Adam Stager, Gavin Posey, Michael Gray, Shore Fire’s Andrea Evenson and WMOT exec Val Hoeppner.
WMOT Roots Radio’s Jessie Scott presided, doing onstage interview segments with the stars in between songs.
Amythyst Kiah was charismatic, humorous and thoroughly compelling as she offered tunes from her just released Rounder Records project Wary + Strange. With just her throaty alto voice and accomplished acoustic-guitar work, she commanded the room with “Hangover Blues,” “Ballad of Lost,” “Wild Turkey” and the set-closing standout, the AMA Song of the Year nominee “Black Myself.”
Standing in the wings, taking it all in was Monique Ross. She is in a duo with her sister Chauntee called SistaStrings, and they have moved to Music City. Milwaukee’s loss is Nashville’s gain.
I say this because Monique was magnificent on cello and background vocals during Allison Russell’s ethereal set. Allison’s lyrics are devastating, but the sound is beautifully enchanting. She performed “Poison Arrow,” “Nightflyer,” “Persephone,” “The Runner” (with Yola) and other tunes from her Fantasy Records debut CD, Outside Child. She mused poetically during song intros and captivated the crowd on clarinet and banjo.
It was a sultry summer night, made memorable by great sounds and a reunion with music loving pals.