by Keaton Comiskey
Whitson’s geared up for an intimate gathering Wednesday night, filled with all sorts of folk music. The show started with Hank Painter. The singer-songwriter started his set alone on the stage with just his voice and semi-hollow electric guitar. After his first song, he called up a friend to play the Cajón drum. The percussive element of the Cajón really emphasized Painter’s bluesy feel. The set then began to pick up with a tune called “Black Licorice,” where Painter’s guitar went from folky to funky. The sparse arrangements allowed for some fun lead guitar moments. Painter introduced a song called “Cursed” that is scheduled to release around this upcoming Halloween and also promised the crowd more new music in the future as he plans to go into the studio next semester.
The next artist, Citizen Serenade, was another solo artist armed with nothing but a guitar, but quickly lived up to his name. Everyone in the room definitely felt like they were being serenaded. Marcello Ramirez’s vocals ranged from crisp and light melodies to more raw and emotional lines while hitting all the right notes in between. Though it was only one man and a guitar, Citizen Serenade’s instrumentals are skilled blends of rhythm and lead all in one. Though the music was pretty emotional, he managed to have a sense of humor throughout the set, delivering a few cheesy jokes throughout. Including one about what to call a pig in a suit (a tailored ham, of course).
Up next was Shlomo Franklin and his backing band, featuring a drum kit, guitar, bass and saxophone, which added a sharp change of pace from all single acoustic acts. Franklin’s sound varied from a soft folk vibe to full on country twang, but the room loved every second. The band was extremely tight and moved through the songs with ease, Franklin making jokes between most songs. Before introducing a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” he gave a speech equating playing a cover song to babysitting your friend’s child. For a soft song called “January Eyes,” Shlomo Franklin powered through some technical difficulties and played the first part of the song with his guitar unplugged and no microphone. His raspy vocals filled Whitson’s with a Kurt Cobain-esque tone. Shlomo Franklin and his band ended on a high note, closing with a twangy track called “Hold Up That Train.”
Last up was Liam Connors, also known as Lee’s Manifold. Another man armed with nothing but a guitar, Connors sat on a stool and encouraged everyone in Whitson’s to sit on the floor. Kicking off this campfire style atmosphere he started with a tune called “Here We Go.” Lee’s Manifold is planning on releasing it this month, but Connors also played an unreleased song called “Calling” from his other project, Strawberry Blonde. Connors finished his set with a Lee’s Manifold song that is featured on the upcoming Melodies for Water charity compilation album. He left the audience (who were still comfortable on the floor) with some instructions— “love each other and get home safe.” A fitting completion to a peaceful Wednesday night in Whitson’s.