An Evening of Folksy-Rootsy Love Songs
How is it possible that I had never seen Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem before this show? They have been performing their style of Americana music for about 20 years, though not in this configuration. They are based here in New England so they perform in the area fairly frequently.
The band is composed of Rani Arbo on fiddle, guitar, and lead vocals; Scott Kessel on drums, percussion, and vocals; Andrew Kinsey on bass, banjo, and vocals; and Anand Nayak on guitar and vocals. Rani (pronounced rah-knee) and Scott happen to be married, and she and Kinsey started performing together in the band Salamander Crossing in the 1990s. This foursome has been together as a band since at least 2001, the year of their first album.
This was a release show celebrating their new album, Violets Are Blue. As Arbo explained, the band recorded an album of love songs at the request of her mother, and this is the result. Of course, It’s not full of necessarily the kind of love songs we are used to hearing. Seven of the twelve tunes were written by the band and those are probably my favorite songs on the album — “Sweet and the Bitter” and “Walk around the World” are two of them. I believe they played all the songs from this album during their two-set show at Club Passim.
During the second set, they played requests from the audience, many of whom were friends and family. Some were apparently deep cuts that they had not played live in a long time, but I could not tell if they were rusty since everything sounded good to my ears.
A fun moment in the first set came when a child in the audience counted the beat after Rani asked Anand (or Andrew) to count the beat! Rani then asked her to do it for them, and she obliged.
Their harmonies, usually with Rani at the helm, are beautiful. Rani has a somewhat distinctive voice and I loved it.
Scott plays percussion instruments that he makes from found objects; “a truly funky collection of cardboard boxes, tin cans, caulk tubes, packing-tape tambourines, bottle-cap rattles, Mongolian jaw harps, and a vinyl suitcase” as described on the band’s website. I was sitting on the opposite side of the room from Scott so I could not see all his instruments.
I am glad I finally saw Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, and plan to do so again.