Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Music Seen: Gypsy Tailwind at Port City Music Hall

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Sometimes "studio magic" doesn't translate well to the stage — especially when 15 musicians perform in a single song. But other times, you wish such large live performances were being recorded for the next album.

Given their connections to crowded-live-act extraordinaire Rustic Overtones (including performances and arrangements by Dave Noyes and Ryan Zoidis), it's no wonder that Gypsy Tailwind's CD-release show falls into the latter category. On Saturday night, they started small(ish), with just five musicians on stage. Frontman Dan Connor sang and played guitar all night, but the double-length set didn't really get going until frontwoman Anna Lombard put down her guitar and focused on singing.

Gently mixing songs from their first record, Halo Sessions (2008) and the new one, Grace, as well as at least one as-yet unreleased tune, the band carefully managed the energy in the 600-person-plus crowd. Connor's smooth crooning, coupled with Lombard's grounded power, held sway — with the occasional guitar, keyboard, drum, and banjo solo — until late in the night, when the crowds started to rush the stage.

Or at least that's how it seemed. During a break in the set, eight music stands, five mikes, five audio-input lines, and five chairs were arranged on stage. What little space remained was soon filled with five string musicians (a cellist, and a pair each of violists and violinists, including sometimes-Rustic band member Angela Doxsey) and a five-piece horn section (with Noyes and Zoidis, there were two trombones, a trumpet, an alto sax, and a baritone sax), who almost immediately got rousing ovations from the crowd.

Arching over all of it, though, were Lombard's vocals, soaring to the heights of the city and never seeming to want to come down.

GT play the Boston Harbor Boat Cruise July 31 and Baystock Music Festival at the Maine State Pier August 8 |