Belle Starr, Jordie Lane, Mark Kroos

Something we don’t do nearly as much as we did when we were younger: go out to a pub or a club or a restaurant or a tavern just to see a band play live.
Somehow sometime a month or so ago I heard about a band called
Belle Starr. May have been just a tweet or mention somewhere online, but they sounded interesting and were playing in a little club called the Dakota and there’s nowhere like a small tavern to see a band. So, without checking out their website or listening to any music or checking anything else about them online I bought a couple of tickets. All I knew about them was that there were three women in the band who all played fiddle, and it seemed as if they would all sing too. I kind of figured hey, what could go wrong.
At the appointed hour we showed up at the club. Had a nice, inexpensive pub style dinner, got a good seat close to the stage and waited. Right on time, the opening act came on. Turned out to be a fellow from Australia named
Jordie Lane, and he’s great. Really personable, good guitarist and a great voice singing very well written songs. Of course it’s hard to figure out how anybody can be making a living touring as an opening act for a trio playing tiny places like the Dakota that holds about 60 people. But that’s not really the point. Still…
Then Belle Starr enter and turn out to be a wild treat. Three attractive young women, one playing fiddle and singing, one playing acoustic guitar and singing and the third is a one woman rhythm section who tap dances, kind of clogs, uses her feet as a drum kit - and of course, sings. They can each sing lead, and sing exquisite harmonies together. They are also totally charming and energetic, and in addition to performing their own songs they do really interesting cover versions of Springsteen, Talking Heads and Dolly Parton. This is a fantastic group and the opportunity to see them in a small, intimate environment is outstanding. By the way, they do all play the fiddle too, sometimes all three of them together even. Wild. Treat.
So here is the point: take a chance some evening and go out to see some live music. Doesn’t really matter if it’s a cover band or people trying to do their own music - although I highly recommend checking out some original stuff if you have a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised, because there’s a ton of talent out there: male, female, young, old. There’s amazing live music going on all around and some night you might find yourself in the middle of a magical experience.
Speaking of which:
Mark Kroos is an incredible young musician who we happened upon at a benefit show. This kid - he really did seem like a kid to me - plays a double-necked guitar but I don’t think anyone else has ever thought of playing one the way he does. He puts six strings on both necks (usually one is twelve string and one is six) and he plays both necks at the same time by pounding on the strings rather than using one hand to pick. And generally, he plays completely different things on each neck. And what he does is both percussive and melodic. And sometimes he bangs on a kind of kick drum with one foot. And occasionally he whoops in delight, as if even he can’t believe he’s managing to do what he is clearly managing to do. Check out his website. Buy his CD Down Along the Lines of Joy, because in addition to being an exceptional live talent he also writes really cool melodies and the recordings stand on their own.