Humorously billing themselves as "Longing for Eliza", or even better yet, "Laugh Laugh Laugh" (see this if you don't get the reference), John Gorka, Cliff Eberhardt, and Eliza Gilkyson took to the Tupelo Music Hall stage last night. Once again Patti and I were sitting up front, not more than about 6-feet from John and Eliza, and maybe a whole 12 feet from Cliff!
We've seen all three of these Red House recording artists solo before, but tonight they were all on stage together in a songwriter's circle format. Unlike Cry Cry Cry, they stuck to their own songs with minimal backing vocals and guitar here and there helping each other out. The notable exceptions to this were the opening and closing numbers, both Gorka tunes, but executed as a trio, ala Cry Cry Cry. The energy and power of these two tunes made me wish for more of this, rather than the one at a time format; "Good Noise" indeed, as that closing song reminded us.
As with Cry Cry Cry a decade ago (has it been that long? wow.), you could feel how much these three artists were enjoying the company and companionship of each other. The solo artist gig must feel a bit lonely after a while, and sharing the road and stage for a change was clearly uplifting to all three. It was particularly interesting to see Eliza concentrating on John and Cliff's songs, learning parts and softly singing away from the microphone.
The show was two sets, with the first lasting nearly 90 minutes and the second around an hour. Some of the length was due to the leisurely banter between the artists; there was no hurry, but the audience didn't mind.
Highlights? I was surprised by Gorka pulling out his classic "I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair" early in the first set; I expected this to show up more towards the end of the show. No complaints from me though, as "Stranger with Your Hair" and "Heart Upon Demand" are I think Gorka's two best songs ever; we didn't get the former though.
The best song sequence of the night was Gorka's "Writing in the Margins" followed by Eliza's beautiful "Jedidiah 1777." Gorka's song was inspired by a conversation he had with an Iraq war veteran. It is written from the perspective of a soldier, writing a letter to his loved one back home. Eliza's "Jedidiah 1777" is based on letters written by her ancestor, Brig. Gen. Jedidiah Huntington. Jedidiah fought in the Revolutionary War with George Washington, and participated in the dreadful Valley Forge winter encampment in 1777.
As always, I encourage you to check out some YouTube samples if you aren't familiar with these three wonderful artists. Recommendations:
- John singing "I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair"
- Eliza singing "Jedidiah 1777"
- Cliff singing "The Long Road"
The photos above are mine, and you can see a few more that I took on Flickr.
The set list:
When She Kisses Me (Gorka)
The Party's Over (Eliza)
Money Don't Care for Me (Cliff)
I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair (Gorka)
Think About You (Eliza)
It's Home Everywhere I Go (Cliff)
Writing in the Margins (Gorka)
Jedidiah 1777 (Eliza)
Only in Heaven (Cliff)
Branching Out (Gorka)
He Waits for Me (Eliza)
The High Above and the Down Below (Cliff)
The Long Road (Cliff)
When You Walk On (Eliza)
Ignorance and Privilege (Gorka)
Love Slips Away (Cliff)
Mama's Got a Boyfriend (Eliza)
Mean Streak (Gorka)
Beautiful World (Eliza)
That's How Legends Are Made (Gorka)
That Kind of Love (Cliff)
Wildwood Spring (Eliza)
Good Noise (Gorka)