Dan Saulpaugh? Who is the guy that immediately grabbed my undivided attention, and how dare he! If you take the vibey charisma and execution of Michael Franks’ vocal qualities and interweave them with some smooth soul-filled, Karate-esque jazz guitar, there you have it, a very poor interpretation of something far better that can only be described by witnessing live and in-person. Dan has quite an array of sonic elements that he shares by way of pinch harmonics, unique chord voicings and looping, all the while maintaining great vocal control of melody and rhythm. Be sure to keep your eyes on this young man in that he’s really doing something great!
Nothing like being on the verge of tears in the first five seconds of a performance. Definitely bring your box-o-tissues if you find yourself in the same room as Rachel Gavaletz as her aura infiltrates the room with piercing vocal inflections, contagious aggressive foot stomping, and pipes that can turn brick walls into doors. This is one gal that you don’t want to mess with as she rips into some dark life experiences with a light sense of cutting sarcasm and humor. Only issue in this instance is that Rachel needs to be performing amphitheater tours, but hey, I consider myself lucky to get to see her at Our Wicked Lady!
For Music Fans Of: Mike Doughty, Leonard Cohen, James Blake, Jamie Cullen
For Art Fans Of: Henry Selick, Kirsten Lepore, The Brothers Quay, Janie Geiser, Faith Hubley
The time as come. The stage is cleared, lights dimmed, screen comes down, projector on, everyone devotes their full attention to the front of the room as Mitchell Leonard and Haisi Hu’s collaborative masterpiece illuminates the room and comes to life.
Quick background just so we’re all on the same page here. The music of “Come Downstairs” was recorded in part by Mitchell Leonard’s good friend and songwriting partner John Creasey, who passed away in early 2016; to whom the video is dedicated. The video itself was inspired by Mitchell witnessing someone die (not John) from a motorcycle accident before his very eyes. This song explores that moment before death. Aside from Haisi’s genius vision and skill set of animation and claymation, her interest and curiosity of death connected the perfect pieces and tools to create such a magnificent video. The video gained a bunch of traction via it’s premiere via Spill Magazine (read HERE). Please do yourself a favor and watch it below before reading onwards.
Pretty amazing huh? Well as Mitchell had promptly warned, the video actually did take on a whole new life form being played through the loudspeakers and projected onto the big screen. I could have watched it ten more times that night.
Sparking tons of questions, Mitchell and Haisi took some time to host a little Q&A for fellow viewers, fans, friends and family alike. Light was shed upon everything from details of the meaning of the song to the creative and artistic process of the video.
Wrapping up the evening was a flawless sonic nightcap from both Mitchell Leonard and drummer/producer Rich Crescenti. Stating that these two “lock-in” as far as a rhythm sections go, is a damn understatement. They might as well share the same heart beat. Rich (in addition to being a wizard behind the console) has the ability to truly hone in on the vibe of a room while also listening extremely closely to what Mitchell is playing and singing. Rich’s dynamic control can caress a mouse or murder the devil with each swift swoop while Mitchell effortlessly plays completely different rhythm and melodies in both hands on the keys and then seamlessly introduces a third completely different vocal rhythm and melody. Not real life folks, pisses me right off. The duo introduce Rachel among other guests up to the stage mid-set to change up the scene and vibe. They hit another original and then switch it up with a little (very suiting) Ann Peebles cover of “I can’t stand the rain”. At this point the band began wrapping up, the evening wound down, and I was completely fulfilled and exhausted, similar to when eating far too much of my favorite food. – Mike Abiuso