Tag Archives: Mikaela Davis

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The Staves Build Bridges at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday

March 13th, 2017

The Staves – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 10, 2017

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As youngsters in England, Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor learned guitar from their father and sang heavy folk melodies at the local pub, which has bloomed into something bigger. Their sweet sisterly harmonies have earned the Staves opening slots for the Civil Wars, Bon Iver and Florence and the Machine. The siblings formed such a strong friendship with Justin Vernon that the Bon Iver frontman produced their last album, If I Was. Playing at Music Hall of Williamsburg Friday night, the first of two sold-out weekend shows in Brooklyn, the sisters were a lovely respite after the morning’s snowfall. Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” introduced the ladies—and drummer Dave Power—to the stage. The show began with Camilla on ukulele for “Blood I Bled,” while Jessica, on guitar, and Emily, behind keys, offered backing vocals.

Opener Mikaela Davis added harp on the breakup song “No Me, No You, No More” as Jessica’s elfin vocals rang across the room. Midway through the set, when Emily and Camilla needed to swap stage positions, Jessica stalled with some light conversation about Gilmore Girls, which the band had been watching on the bus. This sent the crowd into a tizzy with shouts of “Team Jess,” but it was the sisters’ critical takes on the character Rory as “a nause” (an English term of annoyance) that elicited cheers. Vernon’s influences were obvious once everyone was in the right place and Camilla created an echo chamber with a series of vocal loops on “Train Tracks,” similar to those on Bon Iver songs. The skip-hop cadence of “Black & White” perked up fans and grew for the anthemic “Tired as Fuck” as crowd members clapped along to Camilla’s languid delivery. An encore was inevitable and Davis returned again for a dreaming acoustic cover of Sufjan Steven’s “Chicago.” Jessica prefaced the final song, “Mexico,” with “Don’t build walls, let’s build bridges.” —Sharlene Chiu

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Sara Watkins Brings New Music to The Bowery Ballroom Tomorrow

October 4th, 2016

Sara Watkins (above, performing “Move Me” for Rolling Stone) is perhaps best known as the fiddler in the acoustic progressive-bluegrass band Nickel Creek, alongside her brother, Sean, and Chris Thile. She’s also done time as a percussionist with the Decemberists, but sometimes the multi-instrumentalist likes to go it alone, exploring other kinds of music—and in doing so, revealing herself to be a a terrific singer and an accomplished songwriter. Her third solo album, Young in All the Wrong Ways (stream it below), came out this past July. AllMusic says it accentuates “steady, almost thundering, rock rhythms, anxious guitars, and also delicately structured ballads that function as tonic to the bold incidents elsewhere. It’s a brief album, ten songs lasting no longer than 41 minutes, but it feels deep due to its nicely shifting sounds and styles, not to mention the sense that Watkins is setting into her own skin here.” See her tomorrow night at The Bowery Ballroom. Harpist and singer Mikaela Davis opens the show.

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Marco Benevento Leaves Them Smiling at Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 18th, 2016

Marco Benevento – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 16, 2016

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It’s kinda fun to trace the path that took Marco Benevento from the avant-garde basement of the old Knitting Factory in Tribeca to the point where he was standing atop his piano at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night, towering over the crowd in a black-and-white-and-Dayglo-striped suit, top hat and pink sunglasses like a live-action Dr. Teeth. But it’s a lot more fun to just fully enjoy the moment. And there were plenty of them to be had when the Benevento’s infectious, happy-go-lucky energy—and his backing duo—turned the Brooklyn crowd on its head and everyone just surrendered to the fun.

Of course, you don’t begin an evening by hopping up on your instrument, that’s something you have to build toward. The set opened with “Dropkick,” off the recently released The Story of Fred Short, Benevento singing through the verses before opening into concentric circles of piano jams. Right off, his bandmates—Andrew Borger on drums and Karina Rykman pinch-hitting on bass (regular bassist Dave Dreiwitz playing with Ween across the river)—established themselves as guardians of the groove for the evening. While the crowd was quick to join the party and dance, no one was enjoying themselves as much as the three musicians onstage.  The highlight mid-section of the show was a performance of the entire B-side of the new album, which is a sort of concept record. Played live, the music was an explosive prog-rock disco, each piece finding a deeper and more open-ended funk. Rykman was a revelation, often leading the charge with splatter-paint fuzz bass accented by head slamming, body gyrations and a Cheshire Cat grin. Benevento was equally as animated, both on and off the piano, finding his way into the crowd during “I Can’t See the Light” to dance and pose for pictures.

The second half of the set was heavy on instrumentals from Benevento’s growing catalog, each song showing off Benevento’s skills at composition and improvisation. Sing-along, earworm melodies opened up into penetrating jams, his piano augmented by synth and samples, the music swerving between grooves and deep rocking, Borger and Rykman providing equal parts push and pull. And yes, there was dancing and strutting and piano hopping, and even a couple of unironic “Take it to the bridge” mentions in there as well. For the encore, Benevento brought out opener Mikaela Davis on harp to accompany a nice version of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” which began as just a pensive duet, but when the band returned, with an additional guest—Katie Jacoby on violin—the mood quickly shifted back to giddy party and the follow-up quintet version of the Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together” was a perfect we’re-gonna-make-your-cheeks-hurt-from-smiling finish to the night. —A. Stein | @Neddyo