Sunday, March 23, 2014

Circe Link (with Christian Nesmith) at Atwoods Tavern, Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 23, 2014

Some shows are a little harder to encapsulate than others, so here are five perspectives on a highly satisfying musical experience I enjoyed today.

1. There’s a country music subculture in Boston’s club scene, but this wasn’t part of it. This was a crowd of urban eldernerds excited at the prospect of seeing a second-generation Monkee and his hot squeeze light up a tiny taproom in Cambridge on a Sunday afternoon as March Madness raged on everywhere else.

2. Physically, Circe Link is an irresistibly compelling collage of classic ‘60s beauty. Clad in black form-fitting clothes (the pants so low-rise that the hip-hugging belt could have done double duty as a chastity preserver), she resembled Diana Rigg from The Avengers; like Twiggy, she was impossibly skinny; and her hair was as long, blond, and straight as Joni Mitchell’s on her first day in Laurel Canyon.

3. Christian Nesmith, the aforementioned prime-time progeny, is the oldest of Michael Nesmith’s children and, yes, like his father he does play his own instrument, as well as composes, produces, engineers, and, interestingly enough, sublimates his own extensive contributions to the act by remaining unbilled. Though he and Circe are a team in life and in music, the tour, the show, and the swag for sale were all Circe’s.

4. Without any help from you or I, or big record companies, or famous friends and relations, Circe Link has recorded eight albums in a style she calls Cowboy Jazz. This implies that it’s country and yet not, and that is accurate enough. It’s not particularly rife with improvisation, but given that Michael Nesmith’s pioneering country-rock was decidedly left of center both in the realms of country and rock, one should not expect labels to mean much here. Probably the keenest point of reference would be a Prozacked Patsy Cline, whose “I Fall To Pieces” was recorded by the elder Nesmith in 1970.

5. The tiny stage barely accommodated the five dedicated artists. Except for electric bass, all was acoustic: two guitars and a percussionist who sat on a small bass drum that he played with a brush as if it were a bodhran. Two generous sets were offered, all original material except for a cover of Michael Nesmith’s “Calico Girlfriend” from, again, that magical year 1970. Circe’s voice was warm and engaging; like Karen Carpenter, the bottom end of her range is very strong and they both could use a sandwich. Christian took many of the acoustic guitar solos, proving himself to be a fluid player with, OK, maybe a tinge of jazz among the cowboy.

 If a summary is thought necessary, it is this: I pray they make it back to Boston again because both Circe and Christian are very talented, friendly folks who, in the grand Nesmith tradition, take their music more seriously than they take themselves. They are precisely the kind of artists you want to give your money to because they seem so comfortable in their semi-obscurity you almost forget you don't know them personally. In many ways, they're just like your friends - just more talented.

First set opener:

Newest tune:


Anonymous said...

Amazing show...can't wait to see them again!!

cattman said...

I 2nd that! Please come back to the east coast when you can!

Joann M Thebault said...

the world needs more Circe Link!