A tall A-frame wood structure, sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church on Whitney Avenue, stands in contrast to the road’s more classically lined homes and churches. In the aftermath of Storm Hercules, a sizable crowd gathered in the church’s meeting room for CT Folk’s First Friday (of the month) acoustic concert series, which runs from October to May.
Relieved at the sight of the gathering weather-challenged crowd at Friday evening’s performance was CT Folk Executive Director Alice-Anne Harwood, who is also director of development for New Haven’s Neighborhood Music School. The evening’s main act was the No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow.
Shunning the conventional definition of a band, No Fuss and Feathers Roadshow bills itself as “an in-the-round collaborative project”—an amalgam of high-achieving musical artists who enjoy individual careers but love performing together. Project members include Carolann Solobello, winner of the 2011 Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival Songwriting Competition; Kayrn Oliver, a Kerrville New Folk finalist, a Falcon Ridge emerging artist, and a two-time winner of the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest; and The YaYas, Catherine Miles and Jay Mafale, two-time Kerrville New Folk finalists and Falcon Ridge most wanted emerging artists.
On a low stage platform, the four versatile singer-songwriters swapped instruments and sang with pristine harmonies buttressed by confident musicianship. The accessible performers filled the space between songs with teasing banter, much as they do when getting together in one another’s homes, “just for the joy of playing” said YaYas guitarist-percussionist Jay Mafale.
The evening’s offerings were highlighted by three spirited Joni Mitchell covers. NF&F Roadshow members all played a Joni Mitchell 40th anniversary tribute show two years ago to celebrate Mitchell’s landmark “Blue” album. That pivotal event showcased artists’ individual strengths, but also offered new creative opportunities in melding their respective sounds and providing a catalyst for future collaboration. Presented by the NYC female songwriter collective called “Chicks With Dip,” the show has spurred other “Blues” tribute celebrations including one that will be held on Feb. 1 in Franklin, Massachusetts.
CT Folk volunteers were lauded for their hard work in making the First Friday event a success, as were sponsors: New Alliance Foundation, Claire’s Corner Copia (which received rave reviews from the “band”), and Bar, which provided pizza for volunteers. CT FOLK Board President Barbara Shiller, flashed a self-satisfied smile after the successful concert along with an admonition for Independent readers: “Trust us. We will introduce you to good music!”