Friday, June 22, 2018

Ellis Paul, Antje Duvekot and Sam Baker at Club Passim, 6-16-18 Early Show Concert Review

Antje Duvekot performing "Sweet Spot"
My trips to Massachusetts don’t feel complete without at least one visit to Club Passim. And this time the shows I attended were special treats, with three excellent songwriters performing in the round. Ellis Paul, Antje Duvekot and Sam Baker had just finished a series of shows and workshops at Mohegan Island, Maine, and concluded their shows together with two concerts at Club Passim on June 16th. The early show started just after 5 o’clock.

There was a bit of discussion about which musician should lead off the show, and the decision was for Sam Baker to get things going. Sam was the only one of the three that I hadn’t seen in concert before. He mentioned Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee,” a song that is once again pertinent, and then began things with “Migrants.” “They were migrants/They got twelve lines of news.” Sam played electric guitar, and both Ellis Paul and Antje Duvekot sang backup on this one. Afterward, Sam talked about choosing a name for their band, suggesting The Prima Donnas. Ellis asked, “How about The Prima Donalds,” which caused the audience to groan. Ellis then followed that with “I Ain’t No Jesus,” playing acoustic guitar and getting some help on vocals from Antje and Sam.

There was a lot of playful humor at this show, the three musicians clearly enjoying each other’s company. Sam riffed a bit about how “Itsy Bitsy Spider” tells a hopeless and futile story. Antje Duvekot then raised everyone’s spirits with “Sweet Spot,” on which she played acoustic guitar and was backed on vocals by both Ellis and Sam. Afterward, she said “That song goes out to Itsy Bitsy, the depressed spider.” It was then Sam’s turn again, and he actually played his morose rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” performing it solo, and leading Ellis to joke, “I sense a children’s album coming.” Sam then followed that with “Pretty World,” and jokingly added a line from “Three Blind Mice.”

One of the most moving songs of the evening was “When Angels Fall,” a new song from Ellis Paul, a song that addresses the rampant gun violence plaguing our nation. This song asks, “Will you fight for your guns, or will you fight for your children?” When Ellis finished it, my girlfriend turned to me and told me it gave her chills. Antje followed that with a beautiful cover of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” performing it a cappella. Sam Baker then did “Orphan,” with Ellis and Antje providing backing vocals. The three ended that song with a gorgeous a cappella section.

Ellis moved to the keyboard for “Scarecrow In A Corn Maze,” a nice rendition marred only slightly by some static in the speakers. Antje mentioned that Ellis Paul was kind of her idol during her teen years, then played a song by John Gorka, whom she described as her other hero. Sam followed that with “Ditch,” a song he said was saved by Ellis Paul, and one of my personal favorites. Ellis then played “Five Alarm Fire On The 4th Of July,” a fairly new song that I first saw him perform at McCabe’s last month. As at that earlier show, he included a bit of “We Are Family” at the end. Antje delivered a sweet rendition of one of her best songs, “Pearls.” Ellis Paul sang backup, adding a playful “bleep” where Antje would have normally sung the word “motherfucking” (they had joked about this early show being an “all-ages” show).

Sam then did “Go In Peace,” a short but wonderful song, and one that is needed these days. “Go in peace/Go in kindness/Go in love.” Ellis followed that with “The Innocence And The Afterlife,” another song I first heard last month in Santa Monica, and another that I love. His upcoming album is looking like it’s going to be one of his best. Antje then did a surprising medley of songs from The Wizard Of Oz. The three musicians wrapped up the show with a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos),” a song that Sam had mentioned right at the concert’s start. Each of the three sang lead on different verses. The show ended at 6:41 p.m. There was no encore.

Set List
  1. Migrants
  2. I Ain’t No Jesus
  3. Sweet Spot
  4. Itsy Bitsy Spider
  5. Pretty World
  6. When Angels Fall
  7. Feeling Good
  8. Orphan
  9. Scarecrow In A Corn Maze
  10. Love Is Our Cross To Bear
  11. Ditch
  12. Five Alarm Fire On The 4th Of July
  13. Pearls
  14. Go In Peace
  15. The Innocence And The Afterlife
  16. If I Only Had A Brain >
  17. If I Only Had A Heart >
  18. If I Only Had The Nerve
  19. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos) 
Here are a few photos from the show:

"I Ain't No Jesus"
"Sweet Spot"
"Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)"

Club Passim is located at 47 Palmer St. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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