While the rest of the city was captivated by a rare presidential visit, I was hanging out last night at Mississippi Studios, taking in my first-ever concert at that venue.
Yes, I was WAY overdue but the wait was worth it. Got to see a talented young singer-songwriter named Liz Longley, who came highly recommended by my friend Mike Granberry, a music critic at The Dallas Morning News.
“You’re going to love her,” he wrote to me. “She’s going to be a star.”
Well, Mike was right.
Liz Longley is the real deal. Such a lovely voice, reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan, and possessed of a relaxed stage presence. She played an hour-long set, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar and piano. Except for a jazzy cover of Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” everything else was an original composition.
So, while supporters of Barack Obama paid $500 and up to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser with the president, I plunked down my $15 some time ago for an advance ticket for last night’s concert.
It was money well spent. When you see a performer like Liz, there’s nothing better than an intimate space like Mississippi Studios. By my estimate, there was room for about 150 people on the main floor and balcony, and I figure there were 100 people at most Thursday night. That didn’t detract a bit from the experience.
Two anecdotes tell you what kind of place it is.
— The warmup performer, Anthony D’Amato, was about to launch into his second song, a tribute to Woody Guthrie, when he paused and said, “Hey, what happened to the harmonica brace that was out here?”
He began the song anyway and a sound man went backstage, emerging moments later with the missing equipment. D’Amato picked up the piece, attached his harmonica and went on with the song.
— During one song deep into the set, as she was performing at the piano, Liz drew a blank on the lyrics. It was hardly a catastrophe. More like a light moment that revealed the occasional hiccup in a performance — and which the audience totally rolled with. She’d built a nice connection by then, with self-deprecating humor and references to Obama and Voodoo Doughnuts.
The acoustics were great and I had a great view, just five rows from the stage. You can read more about Liz’s background in this piece below, but the short version is that she grew up near Philly, attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, toured for a few years after graduation, and found her way to Nashville, where she collaborated with top-notch studio musicians on her recently released third CD, titled “Liz Longley.”
After her last song, Liz dashed right by me to the back of the room, where she and D’Amato stationed themselves at a table with their CDs, T-shirts and other merchandise. I introduced myself, passed along greetings from Granberry (“Tell Mike I said, ‘Hi,'” she said.), bought the new CD and asked for a photo.
My longtime friend was right. At 27, Liz Longley is destined for success. So glad I got to see her in such a great setting.
Bonus: The pre-concert meal was great. Heard to beat a bacon cheeseburger with a pint of Bridgeport Pale Ale, served in the outside patio.