Posts Tagged “Sassafrass”

DSC_0278For 25 years the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival has been rocking the Florida/Alabama coast, and this year is no exception. Running for two weekends, the festival started Thursday night and will run till Sunday the 22nd.
The festival offers workshops, performances from a wide array of known artist and open mic opportunities for budding songwriters. Multiple venues are listed with a schedule of acts on the festival’s website. A few of the venues, including the festival’s birthplace, the Flora-Bama, Janna’s Market & Deli, Pirate’s Cove, and the Silver Moon, Then, of course, there are venues, not a part of the festival, that compete by bringing in acts such as Grayson Capps.

Saturday evening at the Silver Moon and Janna’s Market & Deli began with musicians jockeying for their chance to perform during the time allotted for open mic. If sitting at the bar in the Silver Moon, one would have witnessed the many artists rushing to write their name on the list assuring their chance to perform 3 songs for the gathered audience. At either venue you would have to suffer through quite a few, to put it politely, less-than-stellar acts, and some that were just plain boring. But, if you sat there long enough, and endured the awful onslaught of old men whining out “woe is me, nobody loves me,” then you would have the pleasure of hearing noteworthy performers such as: Riley Yielding, Sassafrass, Daniela Demaria, and Mark Green.

Yielding shined, with solid vocals and guitar work, but really earned his applause with catchy, fun lyrics like: “so fine but she was someone else’s wife” and “the sweetest thing she does is call me her man.” He then wows with a blues number that sounded almost like a dead on rendition of the classic St. James Infirmary, off by a note or two, that pairs the classic tune with worthy lyrics.
Unique among the typical open mic performers was Sassafras. The environmental folk duo grabbed the audience’s attention with a message of protest, prodding the audience to become more Earth-friendly, with interactive songs like Wolves, guitar runs that become ingrained in ones head via such tunes as Rainforest and the more light-hearted, yet still somehow ominous Water Wars.
Young but filled with potential, Daniela Demaria entered the stage a bit nervously, but when she opened her mouth the crowd knew she was worth staying for.

Owning a voice with the timbre of an unpolished Regina Spektor, Daniela and her guitar reduced our hardened minds to a fluid state of sublime relaxation with a song she wrote about New Orleans street musicians, Wrapped Up in Blue, and one called It’s Not Fair. She may have low ambitions, to become a New Orleans street musician, but her voice may have other plans.
If blues and folk music aren’t your preferred genres maybe Mark Green’s definite country flair is more up your ally. Mark Green opened the open mic session at Janna’s Market & Deli. He may have appeared somewhat unrefined, but once his set started. if you closed your eyes, one would think they were listening to a member of the Nashville elite, someone who had already arrived.

All of the above were a true pleasure to anyone’s ears, but no one can put you in a trance like Grayson Capps. Ending the night at The Reef was definitely worth the second-hand smoke. Grayson puts on a live show like no other. The bar was packed to capacity with some of his biggest fans, there to revel in the experience. Despite being quite popular in Ireland it is no shock he’s southern made. Grayson’s recorded music doesn’t do his live show justice. Though his recordings are consistently good, there is just no way they can capture the raw energy of his live show. You just have to be there.

Tags: , , , ,

Comments Comments Off

l_e9116b033b5041cb92bf50c6fad0a111

by: C. D. Harvill

Some of you older music fans may remember a time when a certain local environmental/political folk musician graced the Marquee and other media outlets. Karen Harvill, once a Mississippi Mama, is now teamed up with long-time friend and fellow folk musician Jo Billups. The pair make up the recently formed group, Sassafrass. With all the talk of global warming, the two passionate artists could not simply sit back without saying a word; so, once again, they’ve picked up their guitars and started singing. Most of their gigs have been in coffee shops in the Pensacola area; however, they have traveled as far as Ohio to perform in “green” festivals. This past Saturday was International Climate Day. To call for a clear solution to the climate crisis 350.org organized 5200 rallies in 181 countries around the world, the most widespread political action in history. The New Orleans rally, which was Sunday in Congo Square, featured Sassafrass, Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown and the marching bands from Sophie B. Wright School, Martin Behrman Charter School and O. Perry Walker High. There were speakers from 350.org, Alliance for Climate Protection, Alliance for Affordable Energy and The Coastal Restoration Network.

Sassafrass performed before and after the marching bands. Their theme-appropriate lyrics, voiced as sparkling harmonies riding on top of catchy guitar runs and compelling rhythms, served as good background music for the opening of the rally. Even for those in the audience who might not have been environmental loonies or lovers of folk music, it was a welcome respite from the foul-mouthed snowball saleswoman heaping abuse upon a fellow street vendor just outside of Armstrong Park. Once everything got started you could hear such poignant songs as “Water Wars” and the more eloquent “White on White” and “Wolves” projecting across Congo Square.  This might not have been their most energetic performance, but it was still clear that the ladies are musicians first and foremost; definitely not your average coffeehouse band.

As a former band geek, one must give kudos to “Kid Chocolate” Brown’s mad trumpet skills and, of course, to the middle and high school bands that performed as well.

With Sassafrass at the head of the parade (sporting gold umbrellas with scenes of melting ice caps and sad polar bears) the group danced second line through the Quarter to DBA on Frenchmen St. to watch the Saints play the Dolphins.

Whether you are interested in saving the environment, or simply a folk music fan, Sassafrass is a must listen.  You can check out both Sassafrass and Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown on MySpace.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments Comments Off