Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Brightest Diamond at Castle Clinton

I love this lady's moves!
I'm an avid fan of the eccentric lead vocalist. So, it should come as no surprise that I leapt at the chance to see the enigmatic band, My Brightest Diamond for FREE at the historic Castle Clinton in Battery Park as part of the NYC River to River Festival!

What an incredible opportunity and gift this show was! The venue was unique and distinctly New York City. Castle Clinton is an outdoor venue setting in a former fort that was built to protect New York from foreign invaders in the 1800's. The small stage was speckled with lights and instruments set before 600 white folding chairs arranged in comfortably spaced rows. There was even a moderately priced concession stand! The turn out was surprisingly low, considering My Brightest Diamond has sold out a 1000 seat capacity venue, maybe the rain earlier in the day had scared people away? Whatever the case, it was lucky for me, because by some miracle of God I managed to snag a seat in the second row! What a stellar view I had!

As the sun's heat began to die down in intensity, we were warmly greeted by the host for the concert as well as Castle Clinton's own park ranger Jim. As I'm a person effected by the vibes of the crowd and stage at concerts, I'm happy to report that the waves of positive energy were radiating! The opening act was music performed by My Brightest Diamond's supporting orchestra for the evening, yMusic. We were regaled with exquisite contemporary arrangements. Meticulously timed and well developed, yMusic's orchestrations were clean, intricate, and expertly layered- not to mention whimsical. I haven't had that much fun listening to an orchestral performance since... Well, ever!

Just as the rigorous applause began to quiet down, it inevitably started again, as the songstress Shara Worden emerged from her hiding place back stage. Dressed in a shocking electric blue satin dress and adorned with what can only be described as a hunch back cape of hot pink and flaming orange taffeta poof balls and shreds of ribbon. Her small head blossomed  out of the costume like the single head of a calla lily.  Her black hair was slicked back and into a small curl at the side of her head. Her eyes were dark, her mouth tiny and ready to express itself.

The Sun was Setting as Shara played...
Seeing Shara Worden perform is like watching my inner teenager cut loose. Never have I felt such a kindred spirit! Her coy smile and demure manner and conversation before a song gives you no clue to the uninhibited power about to be unleashed upon you with her bluesy inflections and shameless dancing. I envy the shameless audacity of Shara's voice, her lyrics, and especially her movement. It's a common theme found among my favorite performers, for sure. There's a certain purity to Shara though that is distinctly her own. This purity makes her unique, and strikes me at my core. I know the feeling she emulates. I am not an exceptional performer because I have a phobia of cutting my own reservations loose like that. I see Shara Worden sing and I question myself. I feel a connection to her because she allows you to access her as a musician. Her performance becomes a tribalistic offering. It was as if the stage was an altar and I was an attendee at an emotional mass. Part of this vibe comes from My Brightest Diamond's pronounced influences. This petite white woman is clearly inspired by soul and blues. The influences have deepened in recent years since Shara has moved to Detroit. She even shared with us a story to give you a sense of the blues community, faith, and dedication.

"Every Sunday this old man would roll out a carpet in front of his house and he and his friends would gather and sing the blues all day... The old man died and his house was knocked down... yet his friends still come and gather outside of the spot where hi house stood, roll out that carpet, and kept on singing the blues..." Shara smiled and her eyes looked out and got lost in the memory of it. She said you could here it carry itself to you on the wind, and it was beautiful. This story alone was inspiring. I can only imagine what it's like to be there and to hear it for myself.

Jessica Dessner
The brevity of this style of music and the depth of emotion is what makes My Brightest Diamond such a powerful show to witness. They premiered songs from their yet to be released album that's due to come out in October as well as three instrumental pieces Shara specifically composed for yMusic, which were accompanied by dance interpretations by Jessica Dessner. While I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to hear any songs familiar to me, all the new music was an abundant consolation! The dance pieces were intriguing and odd, to say the least. Especially when considering Shara adorned her head with an anime-esque mask that stared vacantly out as Jessica pranced about. Between Jessica's interpretive dance, Shara's wild gesticulations and howlings, and yMusic's beautiful orchestral accompaniments... there was never a dull moment!

My Brightest Diamond is the kind of group whose shows you can go to knowing absolutely nothing about them... and leave in love. I even have hard evidence of this- my friend who decided to come with me- who knew absolutely nothing about My Brightest Diamond- turned and smiled at me at the end of the show and said, "That was my favorite show we've seen together so far."

Here's a Very Rough Set-List:
1. Love binds the world

2. Reaching Through to the Other Side
3. Orchestra Performance and Special Interpretive Dance by Jessica Dessner 
4. In the beginning, hallelujah
5. Escape Routes
6. "The flood"
7. Orchestra Performance and Special Interpretive Dance by Jessica Dessner 
8. Velvet curtain
9. A rat!
10. Orchestra Performance and Special Interpretive Dance by Jessica Dessner 
11. For her son, "about the breeze"
12. High low middle
13. Everything is in Line
14. Be my husband man 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Hurricane Club is my 1st stop for Restaurant Week!