Friday, November 13, 2015

The Part Time Criminals, the Unwieldies at the Velveteen Rabbit, Thursday Nov 12, 2015

I quite enjoy the Velveteen Rabbit as a venue - it has a comfortable bar with lots of plush seating and a nicely outfitted, intimate back patio. Bands can play either inside or out and, although it was a chilly November night, they went with outdoors this evening. It was not nearly as bitter as some recent evenings, it did get cold as the hours went by and the two heaters that were set up were not enough to accommodate everyone. Minot gripes, but something to think about as you try to keep customers drinking.

In any case, I have wanted to see the Part Time Criminals and finally had a chance here. Unfortunately, they went on earlier than I expected (it seems that I always arrive way too early or way too late) so I caught maybe half of their set, but dug their roots/blues/country/what-have-you sound. Guitarist Trevor plays in a number of projects around town (see him with Shanda and the Howlers) and has a tasty tone and swingin' licks - dug his slide work quite a bit this set. Singer Ryan (I believe - guys - put your names on your Facebook page!) has a fine voice and the songs benefit from strong melodies and dynamics. Check 'em out!

Of course, the Unwieldies are one of my fave acoustic acts in town and I have ranted'n'raved about them numerous times. This evening they were casual and fun, with plenty of joking around in between songs and interacting with the audience. The set included some of their standard covers - "Everybody Knows" (Leonard Cohen), "Billy Jean" (Michael Jackson), "Never Gonna Die" (Pine Hill Haints), "Veronica (Elvis Costello) - and tunes from their two CDs (Always the Optimist and Let's Grow Old and Strange Together), along with a few newbies. Jack's violin adds much to the mix, from melancholy bowing to pizzicato plucking and Richard's guitar and dobro works fills out the sound and adds more leads. Rob's bass lines are fluid and really help to drive the songs while his voice gives a gruffly melodic contrast to Dani's lovely singing. Always good to see this combo!