Sunday, February 22, 2015

Anne McCue at The Hotel Café, 2-21-15 Concert Review

"Spring Cleaning In The Wintertime"
Anne McCue returned to The Hotel Café in Los Angeles last night to celebrate the release of her excellent new album, Blue Sky Thinkin’ (which Anne joked was “sixty-five years in the making”). Joining her were Carl Byron on piano, keyboard, accordion and backing vocals; Dave Raven on drums and backing vocals; and Zack Hall on electric bass and standup bass (Zack was filling in for Dusty Wakeman, who was in Kansas City). David Moyer joined the group on clarinet and baritone sax on some tunes.

As expected, Anne focused the set mainly on the new CD, which was fine with me, as I think it’s the best album she’s ever released. But she kicked off the set with an older tune, “Driving Down Alvarado,” with a great jam, including a guitar lead that had the audience cheering. She then got into the new material, beginning with “Things You Left Out In The Rain,” which was the first single from the album. David Moyer joined the band on clarinet (which Anne called a “licorice stick”), and Carl Byron moved from keyboard to piano while Zack Hall switched from electric bass to standup bass. One thing I love about the new album is its old-time, jazzy vibes, with acoustic instruments.

Anne followed “Things You Left Out In The Rain” with “Dig Two Graves,” the opening track from the new CD. Carl provided some great stuff on piano. He then switched to accordion for “Spring Cleaning In The Wintertime.” For that song and the following one, Anne borrowed a chair from an audience member (who turned out to be from Leominster, Mass., like ten minutes from where I grew up – just a side note). She introduced “Hangman” by saying: “This is a disco song, if you’d like to dance… It’s a little ditty I wrote about the Ku Klux Klan. They’re still around, they just changed the name of the party.” Anne played lap steel on this great bluesy number, with Carl returning to keyboard and Zack playing electric bass.

From Koala Motel, Anne performed the absolutely wonderful “Shivers.” The group then played a few more songs from Blue Sky Thinkin’ including “Uncanny Moon,” one of my favorites, with the great line “Your smile tore my world apart.”  David Moyer joined them on clarinet for “Devil In The Middle.” Then for “Save A Life” and “Little White Cat,” David switched to baritone sax, which is one hell of a large instrument. “That’s a mother,” Anne remarked. She introduced “Little White Cat” by saying, “This is a song about good luck.” That song featured a nice lead section on keys by Carl (though it was too brief). They then wrapped things up with “As The Crow Flies,” with a great, extended jam, with Anne and Carl trading off fantastic lead sections.

Set List
  1. Driving Down Alvarado
  2. Things You Left Out In The Rain
  3. Dig Two Graves
  4. Spring Cleaning In The Wintertime
  5. Hangman
  6. Shivers
  7. Uncanny Moon
  8. Devil In The Middle
  9. Save A Life
  10. Little White Cat
  11. As The Crow Flies 
There was no encore, due to time constraints.

Here are a few photos from the show:

"Things You Left Out In The Rain"
"Dig Two Graves"
"Spring Cleaning In The Wintertime"
"Uncanny Moon"
"Save A Life"
"Little White Cat"
"As The Crow Flies"

The Hotel Café is located at 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd.

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