Thursday, April 30, 2009

ari hest with rosi golan - 26 april 2009 - night cat

I am a newcomer to the Ari Hest fan club. I checked him out after I read about his 52 project. For someone who has trouble just blogging on a regular basis, the thought of writing a legitimate song every week for a year is intriguing. I wasn't a subscriber to the project, but I did buy Ari's Twelve Mondays CD. After the project was completed he let the subscribers pick their 12 favorite songs. A bold move. Overall, the album is a nice mix of tunes. The stand-out song, is probably Dead End Driving, a very radio-friendly offering.

The other song I stop and to listen to every time it comes on is Cranberry Lake. This is a sweet catchy duet; a little unexpected but lovely just the same. On the album, Amy Kuney shares vocals with Ari. At Night Cat, we were treated to the wonderful voice of Rosi Golan.

Ari Hest has a sound I've heard before. I just can't seem to put my finger on it. His baritone is strong and fills the room. One moment he is soothing you with his voice and the next he is singing in a full-on falsetto. (And pulls it off.) Countrymouse said Ari reminded him of Bruce Springsteen on Nebraska (my favorite Bruce album). I kept thinking (don't laugh) Neil Diamond (without the cheesy 70's mixing). His sound is definitely more pop than anything else, but whose life isn't a little pop songish some days?

Ari Hest made a very interesting comment during his show. He said three-minute pop songs were great and his goal was to master that enterprise. I'm sure the fact that Twelve Mondays is chock-full of three minute (or just under) songs isn't an accident. I love that Ari is an unapologetic entrepreneur. He has no problem marketing himself and has even solicited a group of fans he's dubbed the A-Team, whose purpose is to promote Ari.

Rolling into Night Cat minutes before taking the stage, Ari brought along guitarist Thad DeBrock. Thad produced and played on the Twelve Mondays CD. Although Thad has a career of his own, he was excellent backing Ari. Hest played acoustic guitar all night, but Thad primarily played electric guitar. This was a nice combination. It was obvious that the two men enjoyed playing together. With no prearranged play list, the two of them joked and offered suggestions to one another for the next song.

During the show, Ari dropped the names of friends Julian Verlard and Josh Rouse; both fellow up-and-coming artists. With friends like this is his camp and a growing fan base, you will surely hear more from Mr Hest. After the 52 project, he has a huge supply of material and he just keeps writing. He may indeed master the three-minute pop song before he's done.

I have a confession to make. Ari Hest piqued my interest, but if Rosi Golan hadn't opened for him, I probably would have passed on the show. Don't get me wrong, I do like Ari but with so many awesome acts coming through Night Cat, I might have chosen another one.

If you read my blog, you know I saw Rosi last week when she opened for William Fitzsimmons. (I am still replaying that show in my mind... the music was that good.) I don't think I have ever had the opportunity to see the same artist twice in a week's time. That was pretty cool. Her set was pretty much identical to the Fitzsimmons show (with the notable omission of Hazy). I realized this about halfway through and made a mental note of it, but wasn't put off by it. I was just happy to hear her live again.

Rosi has recently put out her first CD, The Drifter and the Gypsy so her repertoire isn't as large as some artists. Yet, she was able to perform a full set without covering every single song on Drifter. This leaves some sweet little gems for the fan who buys her CD at the show or who is motivated to buy it elsewhere afterwards. (I had downloaded the CD prior to seeing Rosi but actually bought the CD because I wanted an official hard copy.)

(This is from Rosi's first show at Night Cat on 18 April 2009. A h/t to kneeezy for the video.)

Rosi has an incredible voice. Part of the treasure of seeing an artist live is the variations from their recorded sound. If the live performance sounded identical to the CD, it would be a little anticlimactic. In her live show, Rosi's voice oftentimes crescendos from a whisper to a robust sound. I love this. It oozes passion. Along for both of her Easton shows was Jake Phillips. Jake's low gravely accompaniment is the perfect accent for Rosi's music.

Perhaps Rosi's first *big break* was a Pantene commercial. It's the one where Maria Menounos shows women how to have big voluminous hair. Pantene actually put her name and the title of the song (Shine) on the screen, much like a music video. This had not been done before then. Her music has found it's way on to shows like Grey's Anatomy and One Tree Hill.

In true Indy fashion, Rosi marches to her own beat. Her songs range from solid pop tunes to alt-country offerings to folk inspired anthems. She does a spot-on cover of Gillian Welch's "Look at Miss Ohio". (Gotta love a song with lyrics that say "I wanna do right but not right now".)

I got to talk with Rosi both times I saw her. She is warm and engaging. You can't help but like her. She told me she showed up in Easton for this last show in all black and wearing pants. It was 93 degrees that day. So she did what any self-respecting woman would do. She went to Target and bought a new outfit. (A very cute white sundress.)

I think Rosi is heading back to NYC for a little r & r. I am looking forward to seeing her again soon. In the meantime, I'll have to be content with my iPod.

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