Concert Review: Sweet Relief benefit with and for Victoria Williams, Waterdeep and the Midday Ramblers

It wasn’t hip, sexy, trendy or in anyone’s idea of hot, but this past Friday’s Sweet Relief benefit was an evening of excellent music for the best of causes, and, I’m sorry you weren’t there to enjoy it. I won’t lecture you. But it kinda sucked that more people didn’t devote a few early evening hours and 20 measly bucks (plus fees if you bought through Ticketbastard) to enjoy the work of some very talented musicians and songwriters, and to support an organization dedicated to helping musicians pay for health care. Fortunately, the organizers came out in the black, raising some $1,000 for the newly revived Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

About 150 folks came out, filling half the chairs that had been set up before the stage at Liberty Hall, a venue that can look huge when it’s full or quite small and compact when it’s empty — as if you could make a standing jump from the balcony to the stage and not so much as break an ankle. (Not that you would want to risk that in a country where it would cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you did break your ankle.)

Leaping nimbly across acres of bluegrass were the Midday Ramblers, a band I didn’t know from Adam but am glad to know now.

That was actually the theme of the evening, for me: going in not expecting much and getting blown away. Even though the performers didn’t turn out to have much of a draw, the show was actually very well booked, music-wise. Though the sounds veered from old-timey (Ramblers) to suprisingly cutting-edge indie (Waterdeep) to all the flavors of Williams’ work — rock, jazz, folk, bossa nova, all interpreted through her classically American lens — it never veered away from being thoroughly pleasant to the ear, harmonious, even, and quite frequently, inspirational. But I ramble.

So, the Ramblers — very cool. The four Lawrence men came out shortly after 7, with a statistic: at 12 years and going, they think claim to be the longest-running local band to retain all of its original members. 12 years doesn’t sound that long, but to keep all members … hmmm… that’s one for the pub quiz. But why would you wanna quit a gig like the Ramblers?

Categories: Music