Steve Gillete and Cindy Mangsen, with Mara Levine opening
Boumel House Concert Series, January 28th, 2012
Okay… so there’s this famous story about Eric Clapton that goes like this. He was doing a concert somewhere in Florida, in Jacksonville I think, and he walks out on stage playing Layla. Well, he gets about a dozen bars into that classic of classics when all of a sudden he yanks his guitar up over his head, slams it down on the stage, walks off and won’t come back for about half an hour. Why? Cause that’s all anyone wanted to hear him play, so much so that he felt like no one wanted to hear anything else he had to offer.
So now there’s this guy named Steve Gillette who also has a famous song, and his is called Darcy Farrow. Now I don’t know Darcy Farrow from Farrah Fawcett, cause to the best of my knowledge I’ve never heard it. What’s more, Steve never played it at Arlene Boumel’s house concert this past weekend. What’s worse, I decided not to listen to it online before writing this review, though I’m sure it’s all over YouTube. Why, because before I saw Steve Gillete at Arlene’s this past weekend, he was just another guy with a guitar. Oh, how wrong could I be.
Now remember, I am Darcy Farrowless, so when the duo Steve Gillete and Cindy Mangsen (www.compassrosemusic.com) took the stage last Saturday night, I was Tabla Rasa (clean slate) cause I knew neither of them nor their music. But after Arlene’s house concert, I was Tabla Cornucopia (full plate). Wow, can they play. Together they were like a fine Swiss watch metering out tune after tune in such blissful unison that I was floating harmoniously along with them throughout the entire show. In fact, in as much as I was listening to their music, I was massaged by it. And in as much as I was hearing their lyrics, I was singing right along with them.
Now as if that weren’t enough, let me tell you that in addition to being great songwriters and musicians, Cindy and Steve are great entertainers. While many of us can write, play and sing to one degree or another, lots of us (and I include myself in this category) have the personality of a log on stage. Not so of Steve and Cindy. They talked with the audience between pieces and told us stories that gave framework and foundation to everything they played, proving that as well as being great musicians, they are great personalities, too. Truth be told, by the end of that evening I felt more like I had seen Aunt Cindy and Uncle Steve, rather than Steve Gillete and Cindy Mangsen.
Now, I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t also tell you that Mara Levine (www.myspace.com/maralevine) opened the show accompanied by Arlene Boumel. Instead of calling herself a singer, Mara likes to say she is a musical interpreter, and justly so. She readily admits she cannot play an instrument, but when you have as beautiful and resonant a voice as hers, why bother. On the other hand, after listening to Arlene accompany Mara on the guitar and with harmonies, one wonders why Arlene doesn’t bother to play and sing more often. They were, ultimately, a great pair opening for a great duo.
All that said, I still don’t have a clue about Darcy Farrow, but now I do know Cindy Mangsen and Steve Gillete. And that is more than enough for me. Why, because Steve and Cindy are so much more than any one song, and neither of them had to throw their guitar on the ground for me to appreciate the wealth and love of music they shared with us that evening.