IDOW recap:: Jolie Holland, Justin Rutledge & Dan Ledwell

Honestly, the lineup at IDOW 2- Electric Boogaloo was pretty stellar top to bottom. I mean, for artists like Jill Barber, Buck65, Ana Egge, Ruth Minnikin and Rich Aucoin to play second fiddle to Friday Night’s lineup speaks volumes (and that’s not even counting Al Tuck playing with an eight-piece band), but for me, that’s what happened. Friday night was three musicians in the perfect setting, playing perfect songs. As 500 people took a seat on rock hard pews in the St. George Round Church with only a pulpit and two mics staring back at them, you sensed something powerful was about to happen and we were certainly not disappointed.

Halifax song writer Dan Ledwell started the evening, wearing an Outsiders inspired white t, jeans and black Chucks and of course, his heart on his sleeve. Ledwell is such a quiet fellow, you almost overlook his talent. He cracked jokes and finger picked his delicate melodies and honestly was a terrific start to an amazing evening.

His nonsense filled banter was like the icebreaker and a party that the room needs and tracks like Daisy, You’re a Liar and I Have Made You a Mixtape brought out some of the loudest claps of the night. I know people think of Dan more for his work in In-Flight Safety, but as Shane and I have both said countless times, his solo record is a hidden treasure.

Video:: Daniel Ledwell - New Flame (Live @ IDOW 09)

But to be fair, most in attendance were there for the subsequent acts. Up next was fellow Canadian, Juno nominated and Polaris long-listed Justin Rutledge. Rutledge possesses one of the best voices you’ll stumble across in the Canadiana scene, and the pin drop quiet and fantastic acoustics of the church let him shine.

Ripping off a set that visited tracks from the past and the future (he played a new song from a theatrical project he’s working on) as well as some of the “hits” off of Man Descending (Penny For the Band, St. Peter) Rutledge managed to make a guy and his guitar an experience. By the time he reached his last song and started a sing-along as he walked through the crowd, I think he had converted any doubters into life long fans.

Video:: Justin Rutledge - Penny for the Band (Live @ IDOW)

Up next was one of my favorite artists…period. Jolie Holland is such a refreshing musician; songs rooted in the history of music (folk, soul, gospel) with a voice that draws you in, but her music is so unique and original it’s easy to see why she’s loved by everyone from old punkers (Greg Graffin asked her to work on his solo record) to eccentric icons (Tom Waits) .

Her new record - The Living and the Dead - is another masterpiece, but there is something about seeing Jolie live that gives the songs another layer you don’t always get on record, especially on special occasions like Friday night when she plays without her band.

She’s so quiet and quirky - almost nervous - out there on stage that you really feel like you are sitting in a living room listening to her play. She starts and stops, fiddles with her capo and talks about her friends and the music that inspires here (I mean, a Los Lobos cover out of nowhere) tells extremely personal stories to start her songs, but once the strums of her guitar start, she engages the entire room.

The songs in the set don’t really matter (although she did play some of my favorites from the new record, like Mexico City and Palmyra as well as the Be Good Tanyas classic, The Littlest Bird and opted not to play quite a few of the many requests), because with subtle laughs, admissions and mistakes we left the show feeling like we got to know Jolie, not just her music.

Video:: Jolie Holland - Your Big Hands (Live @ IDOW)

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2009 at 11:11 am and is filed under Canada, Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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