Words by: Michele Augis | Images by: by: Scott Galbraith
Sonya Kitchell & The Slip :: 10.24.08 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA
Sonya Kitchell has good taste and is wise beyond her years. She chose a darling trio of fine musicians, The Slip, to back her national tour supporting her sophomore LP, This Storm (released September 2 on Decca Records). They rolled through San Francisco, kicking up dust at The Independent, after sets from openers the Dave Brogan Band and a solo set from The Slip's Brad Barr.
In the land of rock & roll, it's fairly normal for artists to co-mingle. For example, Sonya Kitchell spent three months on tour with Herbie Hancock, after recording a track on his 2007 Grammy Award winning Joni Mitchell Tribute album, River: The Joni Letters. It was in 2006 that the fortuitous meeting of The Slip and Kitchell took place. The Slip performed at the Boston Music Awards that year, where they also received the award for "Best Live Act." Soon after, Kitchell was joined by Andrew and Brad Barr in the studio, where they recorded the Malcolm Burn produced This Storm.
Kitchell showed up ready to rock San Francisco, decked out in a festive outfit that matched the enthusiastic vocal delivery of her original rock-pop-alt-country material. The Slip, long a beloved band in S.F., brought one of the bigger audiences of their tour. There was a seemingly effortless nature to their approach to Kitchell's songs. The chemistry of Kitchell's youth with the popular trio seemed to give her some breathing room with the audience, demonstrating that while she is already an accomplished singer-songwriter in her own right, her choice of The Slip was a good fit for all involved.
Kitchell's vocal style was a mix of bellowing and crooning, especially during "Borderline," where Marc Friedman's permissive bassline stood out over the notes. But most of the time, Kitchell's voice was the real star. Despite the fact that this was my first real drink of her work, I can tell that her well of talent is filled to the rim, and we will be hearing from this young spirit for many years to come.
With many die-hard Slip fans in attendance, the appearance of The Slip's "Soft Machine" was the obvious highlight of the set (rivaled by several of Kitchell's originals, including a riveting take on title track "The Strom"). It was interesting to watch Kitchell sing this Slip staple, trading off verses with Brad Barr, almost causing one to wonder if Brad has perhaps always secretly wanted that female counter-point to give balance to his own approach. The set was strong, even impressive for a first encounter. And with so many faces crying for Slip songs it was no easy task to satiate the crowd, but Kitchell did so eloquently.
Brad Barr (with Sonya Kitchell) :: 10.24 :: SF, CA|
As mentioned before, the night began with Brad Barr. Best known for his lead vocal and guitar role in The Slip, Barr recently released a solo instrumental album, The Fall Apartment, from which he played the lovely intro track, "Sarah Through The Wall," a song described as being inspired by a morning harp soundtrack played by a housemate. Barr was a great beginning to a full night of music.
The second opener was the Dave Brogan Band. Brogan was supported by Tim Young (Jesse Baylin) on guitar, Colin Hoops (Big Light) on keys, Geoff Harper (Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet) on bass and Sean Hutchinson (New Monsoon) on drums. It seemed Brogan was a familiar face to those in attendance, most easily recognized as the drummer for the popular band ALO. Brogan and friends performed material off his latest release, Thunderbird Sun Transformation, produced by local favorite Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips.
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