Session Americana at Lizard Lounge (Cambridge, MA – Dec 30, 2014)
The number thirteen is said to be unlucky, but not for Session Americana – tonight’s show was the thirteenth consecutive Tuesday at the Lizard Lounge for this Boston based musical collective. It was apparent from the first song that many loyal fans were out in force to celebrate the final night of their residency. Session Americana was scheduled to play twice; the early set (timed to start at 9.30 pm) was sold out so anyone who hadn’t bought tickets in advance would have to wait in the hope that some tickets would open up for the second set.
A packed room in this low ceilinged venue, where the musicians sat around a small table, made for a cosy setting. Other performers join the four permanent members of the group, Ry Cavanaugh, Dinty Child, Billy Beard and Jim Fitting so I didn’t know in advance who might be sitting in tonight. Jon Bistline was the fifth member (a new name to me, but he took the lead vocals on a cover of Daniel Lanois’ “Many Waters” and sounded great!), and guitarist Duke Levine, the sixth. That was a real treat as I’ve been a long time admirer of Levine’s work both as a musician and as a producer. Laura Cortese joined the band for “Goldmine” – she played with them when I last saw Session Americana in London during their October 2013 tour.
The hour long set included some original songs and some cover songs with the musicians not only swapping seats but also swapping instruments. Many of the songs were familiar to the audience who sang along word perfectly – particularly engaging was the call-and-response style of “Beer Town” and “Doreen” – the hometown crowd’s reactions to these talented musicians was a joy to see.
The lively tempo was taken down a notch or two with a viscerally touching cover of the pop standard “You Always Hurt the One You Love”. It’s songs like these that surprise, yet delight the audience at Session Americana shows. You never know what might get played next. They just love singing and playing and their repertoire is wide and broad – I adore how they mix and match songs, styles, vocals and instrumentation. A friend who hadn’t seen them before accompanied me to the show and remarked that they were a lot of fun and that she would have to check out their music! ‘Nuff said!
Looking forward to 2015, Session Americana are in the process of recording a new album, which is being produced by Anaïs Mitchell – an early cut of the title track “Pack up the Circus” has been put out on video and gives a taster of what to expect. A tour in support of the new album is in the offing and I can but hope that they bring it to the UK as I would love to see them again.