Saturday dawned blustery, clear and cold — a profound shift from the near-summertime temperatures just five days prior, but a welcome change from the meterological madness of the previous night.
It was, in other words, a good day to get outside and sit on a rooftop patio, taking in some live music. The day party at Sixth Street’s Blind Pig Pub, dubbed “Deep Ellum in Austin,” a collaboration between events website Do 214, ticketing service Prekindle and Deep Ellum Brewing Co., more than fit the bill.
The line-up was all drafted from up north, and kicked off with a set from Color TV’s Noah Jackson, who more than handled his solo responsibilities. He was followed by Fort Worth’s own War Party, a veritable guarantee of a good time if any band ever was. With goofball banter sandwiched between razor-sharp punk-pop songs, War Party spurred the small, but steadily growing, audience to draw closer to the stage.
The audience moved closer still with the arrival of bluesman Charley Crockett and his bandmates. The buzzy Crockett, whose album A Stolen Jewel is one of last year’s better local efforts, sounded as if he’d been spinning sadness into song all of his life, working the seam between despair and uplift with a dazzling ease. (Crockett isn’t wasting any time either — his next album, In the Night, is due out in June.)
From Sixth Street, it was over to Central Presbyterian Church for a string of sterling performances, kicked off by Jonathan Terrell’s throwback country, complete with Terrell sporting a fringe-sleeved jacket for some of his showcase. His smooth voice fit neatly into the often honky-tonk vibe of his material, which earned him appreciative applause.
Terrell was followed by, for me, the night’s showstopper turn.
Singer-songwriters Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones performed their forthcoming album, Little Windows, in its entirety, and the house of worship seemed almost to levitate with the purity of the pair’s harmonies. Splicing the Weavers-era folk music with a little dash of Everly Brothers pop and Sun Records country, Thompson and Jones made magic happen, and their banter between songs — her sunny optimism balancing Thompson’s wry miseries — was as captivating. Little Windows arrives April 1.
Taking the stage next was another formidable duo, Judy Collins and Ari Hest, who met at a festival several years back and enjoyed collaborating so much they wrote an album’s worth of songs, Silver Skies Blue, which is due out in June. Collins’ bell-like soprano remains breathtaking, and placed against Hest’s burly, warm tenor, it only seemed more beautiful. The songs were a sensitive mix of pop and folk, fairly floating in the light of the stained glass windows.
Songstress Katie Crutchfield, who performs under the musical moniker Waxahatchee, closed things out at Central Presbyterian Church, and her wounded but riveting rock songs, performed alone on an electric guitar, proved a fitting climax to this wild, woolly week spent traversing Austin and its surroundings, seeking out moments that cut through all the noise and hype.