“Three Girls and Their Buddy”

January 24, 2008
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Anyone else catch the “Three Girls and Their Buddy” concert at Clowes Memorial Hall—featuring Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, and Patty Griffin— last weekend?

Putting aside the enthusiasm of the fan base for each of the performers for a second, the one-nighter revealed both the pluses and minuses of the round-robin concert format.

On the plus side, fans of any of the three esteemed leading ladies got a nice sampling of work by the other artists, including musicians’-musician guitarist Buddy Miller.

Pleasure, too, came from hearing each performer fill in spontaneous background vocals and harmonies on the songs of the others.

The downside is that, with a gap after each song and winging-it stories and jokes, the concert never built momentum, ending when the requisite number of rounds was complete.

When the final song was sung, I felt a pleasant evening had passed, but none of the very talented women had delivered a performance that sent me running to find its CD equivalent.

Did you make it to the show—or to the similarly structured  Lyle Lovett/Joe Ely/Guy Clark/John Hiatt show last season? If so, please share your thoughts.

Or tell what singer/songwriters you’d like to see in this format?
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  • In October I had the pleasure of being an organizer for the Broad Ripple Fall Music Festival and we put on a similar event at the Upper Room with Christian Taylor (America Owns the Moon), Chad Mills, and Chris Haskett. It was really fun as a concert goer to see a lineup like that, taking 1 - 3 songs, contributing to each others sound with solos, backup vocals or harmonica. The crowd was great.

    We're looking at doing more of these events in conjunction with Second Helpings, Second Fridays at the Upper Room, starting in March.

    As a performer it would have driven me crazy, I like to try to build a vibe and some performance momentum, and prefer the more rock, less talk approach.

    It's rare for me to have a songwriter I want to hear talk, Ray Davies is an example. But if you're not Ray Davies I'd just rather get the music. The audience really responds though, so I would say it's a format we'll be seeing more of.
  • I attended the very entertaining Lovett-Ely-Hyatt-Clark concert in January 2007. It was a dark and stormy night, but I thoroughly enjoyed the talent. What made the show was Lovett's wry humor.
  • I saw both shows. I enjoyed Three girls better. The consensus from the group I was with was much different than yours. Everyone enjoyed the informal atmosphere. The spontaneous but not well organized banter made it seem like we were guests for an evening in their living room. The performers seemed quite human in the setting. Buddy might have been the best guitarist, but his electric guitar was often just a bit to loud and drowned out the accoustics. Shawn Colvin had the clear, sweet folk voice. Emmylou has a unique, slightly haunting voice. Patty Griffin has a voice that goes from whisper to peak in seconds, much like a pop singer, but with just enough off beat quality to take it out of the pop genre, and into Americana. That peak/valley quality of her songs is probably why her songs have been recorded by the Dixie Chicks and Kellie Clarkson (I think). Among all of them, Patty gave the most thrilling performance. It was a delightful evening.
  • I saw the boys and loved it! John and Lyle are two of my favorite song writers. I bought tickets the day I heard they were going on sale as a birthday present to myself - I give really good gifts.

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