Sunday, July 28, 2019

Freedy Johnston and Amilia K. Spicer at The Federal Bar, 7-28-19 Concert Review

Freedy Johnston
Today was a day of music, just exactly what I needed after a 70-hour work week and watching too many news programs (I keep telling myself to take a break from the horror show in our nation’s capital, but it is just impossible). I started the day at The Federal Bar, where Freedy Johnston and Amilia K. Spicer played as part of the ongoing Mimosa Music Series. It was a nice, mellow crowd. And after quickly drinking two mimosas, I was feeling rather mellow myself. This was my first time seeing Freedy Johnston, at least as far as I can recall (my memory is not as sharp as I would like it to be). He has a couple of new singles out – “20 Radios” and “Tryin’ To Move On.” Will a new album soon follow? I hope so.

Amilia K. Spicer was up first, and at 11:29 p.m., concert series host Gary Calamar came out to introduce her. “Welcome to Once Upon A Time In North Hollywood,” he joked, referring to the new Quentin Tarantino film (which I still need to see). Then, as she plugged in her acoustic guitar, Amilia told the crowd, “First time I’ve had a soundcheck at 9 o’ clock.” She kicked off her set with “Train Wreck,” which had a sweet, pleasant sound. I was especially digging the mandolin. The band backing her included electric guitar, electric bass, mandolin (sometimes violin), drums and backing vocals. Check out these lyrics: “Our love is like a train wreck, a train wreck/I saw it coming/Heard a big noise, and I started running/Now I’m looking back/It’s sliding off the track/Nothing left to see here/Nothing left to see/Of you and me.” “Shotgun” was kind of an intriguing tune, beginning with some moody atmospheric stuff on mandolin and electric guitar. “Shotgun, I’m riding shotgun/Because everybody’s got one/Around here.” One of my favorites from her set was a new song that I’m guessing is called “Radio,” this one featuring violin. Afterward she told the audience, “I usually talk a lot more, but not today, apparently.” She added, jokingly, “These have all been dance numbers.” The next song, however, did get some people dancing. It was a cool, jazzy number with the mandolin being a prominent element. But the most beautiful songs of her set came when she put down her guitar and switched to keyboard. I was particularly moved by “Down To The Bone.” Her set concluded at 12:16 p.m.

It was only eleven minutes before Gary Calamar was back on stage to introduce Freedy Johnston, mentioning his 1994 album This Perfect World, which is now available on vinyl. Gary quipped that the world isn’t perfect, but at least that song is. And that’s it, really, isn’t it? The world is a mess, with a racist authoritarian twit occupying the White House, and his followers eager to destroy everything that is good about this country. But for the length of a song, the world can be perfect. The world created by that song, that is. That’s why I just can’t get my fill of music these days. Anyway, when Freedy Johnston took the stage, he told the audience, “We’re probably going to be too loud for you here.” He then kicked off his set with “Don’t Fall In Love With A Lonely Girl,” a rockin’ tune from Rain On The City, just what I needed. After that song, Freedy joked that they were going to have a child ventriloquist come out, referring to a short microphone stand in the center of the stage, which he then moved to the side. As I mentioned, Freedy Johnston has a couple of new singles out, and he followed “Don’t Fall In Love With A Lonely Girl” with one of them, “Tryin’ To Move On.” It’s a fun rock number, and his drummer and bass player provided backing vocals, leading Freedy to say afterward, “Those boys can really sing, can’t they?

To celebrate the vinyl release of This Perfect World, he played a few songs from that album, including “Evie’s Tears” and the title track. Those were followed by Freedy’s other new song, “20 Radios.” He brought up the fact that the beat to that song has been used quite a bit, and that he is well aware of it. He also did a cover of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman,” breaking for a moment when his voice – as he said – suddenly sounded like Grover. He added that he hoped someone got it on video. Did someone? I don’t know. Following that song, he thanked the audience and jokingly asked to be considered for their next corporate event. He then wrapped up the set with “Bad Reputation,” also from This Perfect World. Except that his set was not over then. He was about to leave when he remembered that he’d planned to do a song with Amilia K. Spicer. And so he invited her up, telling the crowd this song would be the encore. What they did together was a really sweet rendition of “Hickory Wind.” The show ended at 1:16 p.m.

Freedy Johnston Set List
  1. Don’t Fall In Love With A Lonely Girl
  2. Tryin’ To Move On
  3. The Lucky One
  4. Evie’s Tears
  5. This Perfect World
  6. 20 Radios
  7. Neon Repairman
  8. Wichita Lineman
  9. Bad Reputation
  10. Hickory Wind
Here are a few photos from the show:

Amilia K. Spicer performing "Train Wreck"
"Down To The Bone"
Amilia K. Spicer
Freedy Johnston performing "The Lucky One"
"Bad Reputation"
"Hickory Wind"

The Federal Bar is located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd., in North Hollywood, California.

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