TAYLOR and I went to the Tin Angel last night, and enjoyed the music of Voices on the Verge and Danny Michel. But first, we ate. The Tin Angel is an upstairs music club in downtown Philly. The Serrano restaurant is on the first floor of the building. If you have dinner at the restaurant, you get a reserved table at the Tin Angel for the next show. A reserved table helps, because the building is built like a rowhouse: 15 feet wide, and a hundred feet long, with the stage at one end. It's easy to be a long, long way from the stage.
Dinner was good. Taylor had a salmon dish, I forget the details, but I had a taste and it was good. I had polenta-crusted grouper over a puttanesca-type sauce, with sautéed potato wedges and haricots verts. I wouldn't have thought of using a puttanesca sauce with fish, but the result was really good. Or maybe I was just hungry.
Voices on the Verge is a group of women singer/songwriters, each of whom has her own career, but who get together, exchange ideas and tour together singing each other's songs for part of each year. Taylor's idea, I admit I'd never heard of them, but I'm clueless about most contemporary music. They've been pretty well received, I gather. I enjoyed their music, but it was clearly in the 'women's music' genre, and a lot of the rhythms and melodic hooks sounded an awful lot like the Indigo Girls. I wasn't hearing much I haven't heard before. Their stage presence and in-group interactions also seemed very strained. It was their first set of the evening, and they improved as it went along; maybe they needed to have a few more drinks before the second set. I still enjoyed them, and wouldn't mind seeing them again.
I actually preferred their opener, a Canadian singer/songwriter named Danny Michel. 'Quirky' I would call him. Hard to fit into a genre. Sort of reminded me of early Louden Wainwright III. Both melodies and lyrics were quirky. One song was about a recurrent dream he was having about being a fireworks salesman, who was being stalked by a woman, and I forget the rest of the details, but during the song the stars fell out of the sky onto a motel lawn. Another song was based on the ramblings of a pathological liar he met in a bar once. He played an electric guitar, with occasional canned electronica back-up, and showed some amazing ingenuity (and seemed to be enjoying himself thoroughly) at getting interesting sounds out of that solo guitar. He said he had a band in Canada, but the tour was so low budget they couldn't afford to come along. There's a sampler mp3 on his website, and it seems to have the band on it, but in truth, I think I preferred him with the solo guitar. I hate music that I can predict the next rhyme or the next line the first time I hear it, and I couldn't do that with his, his lyrics had some genuinely novel, striking images and thoughts in them. I may buy his album.
It was a nice evening. I hope we can go again.