In Spite of the Devil, Spuyten Duyvil Is Heavenly
How thrilled was I to see that two of my favorite bands would share the stage on the same evening at Club Passim! Spuyten Duyvil, a folk-infused blues band (or is it a blues-infused folk band?), headlined this show with Laney Jones and the Spirits, an indie folk (to use their description) band, opening the show. I know the music of both bands well, and they truly shined this evening.
Spuyten Duyvil (spite-un die-vul) takes its name from a body of water in New York City that is beautiful but treacherous. Their music is anything but devilish! Based just north of that area, they are currently touring with a new album, The Social Music Hour Vol. 1. , their fourth release. This new album consists of traditional folk songs done their way. It is a beauty! Since it is volume one, I hope that means there will be many more volumes in the future.
Mark Miller and Beth Jamie Kaufman founded the band five or so years ago. Mark plays guitar, resonator banjo and bouzouki, as well as providing vocals. Beth is the lead singer and plays hand percussion at times. They are joined by Ric Mercaldi on guitar and lap steel, James Meigs on harmonica, Jagoda on drums, and John Neidhart on bass, with all but Jagoda (rhymes with pagoda) providing harmonies on backing vocals.
The entire band has tremendous energy, but Beth – being front and center on pretty much every song – puts everything she has into each tune. I love both the traditional songs they perform – ‘I’ll Fly Away’, ‘Barbara Allen’, and ‘Hot Time in the Old Town’, to name a few – and their original songs from previous albums. ‘Peace With the Damage’ and ‘Bitter’ are some of their originals. Beth’s energy is fabulous and infectious. I dare anyone who loves traditional music to not be uplifted by the end of their set.
They ended this show with a traditional song that has become a signature for them – ‘Shady Grove’. All of the traditional numbers they sing exhibit their own spin on those tunes, but none better than ‘Shady Grove’. I can’t help but want to dance right along with Beth.
Laney Jones and the Spirits is a young band that is making tremendous headway into the indie folk/Americana circles in which they travel. Laney on banjo and ukelele as well as lead vocals, Matthew Tonner on guitar, Curtis Seligson on bass, and Alex Shames on drums comprise the band. The three men provide backing vocals.
Laney has a gorgeous voice and the songs highlight it well. Laney does most of the songwriting with some help from Matthew. She is a witty songwriter, and the tunes are eminently listenable. Their new music will be on an album that should be released this autumn, but don’t wait for that to pick up their two albums (note that the current band is not the band on the albums, but they are enjoyable regardless).