Sunday, August 10, 2008

Jenny Godspeed and Patti DeRosa @ Mocha Maya’s, August 9th, 2008

A couple of good local singer-songwriters played Mocha Maya’s in Shelburne Falls, MA Saturday night. Shelburne Falls is a lovely old town in northern MA, about 25 miles up route 91 from Northampton, and Mocha Maya’s, I’ve recently learned, has a pretty good concert series ( I see that Gretchen Witt (, a New Artists Showcase performer at Falcon Ridge a couple of weeks ago, will be playing there on the 16th.

I attended the show with the lovely and charming Naomi Fox, who first clued me in to Jenny Godspeed ( I listened to a couple of cuts from her album Under the Ash Tree, including a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “The Arrangement,” which I haven’t listened to since the last time I gave Ladies of the Canyon a spin. And I noticed that her album came out on Signature Sounds, a mark of quality in my book, and had contributions from Jim Henry, Duke Levine, and Beth Amsel. That’s a pretty good array of supporting musicians.

When Naomi and I arrived, Jenny Godspeed had already performed her first set of the evening, and Patti DeRosa ( was well into her own. We walked in on a song called “Complicated Woman” that was nothing special as a song, but the singer performed confidently, with assurance. Her next songs were more substantial. She did a cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s “Winter in America” and a lovely song of her own called “Italian Heart.” She talked about seeing Gil Scott-Heron live in the 70s and her elderly Italian grandmother, now deceased. Her guitar playing was clearly a cut above the folkie norm: mostly chords, but with some tricking-looking moves up and down the frets. The overall impression she gave was of relaxed calm, someone who knew who she was and where she’d been. Now, looking at her website, I see that she’s received accolades from her betters, including Vance Gilbert. No surprise.

Jenny Godspeed’s mini-set was pleasant, although nothing more than that. Her voice is more pristine than Patti DeRosa’s, and her songs are wordier. Dare I say artier? She played a song called “Compass” that made we wince a bit. On the other hand, she also played a love song called “More than Just Friends” that made me smile. It was simpler than her other songs and, like a lot of simple songs, was plenty profound in its way. As Pete Seeger once said, “any fool can be complicated.” Naomi and I both agreed that Patti DeRosa is worth checking out.

Naomi and I also noticed that Memorial Hall (, also in Shelburne Falls, has a nice movie series. Astaire and Rogers in Shall We Dance? (1942) this September 12th and 13th, and we might just go.

I’ve been immersing in two early Jack Hardy albums, The Mirror of My Madness and The Nameless One. Both are great, and I’ll write more about them another time.

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