Boumel House Concert Series 02/11/12
Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin, with Sam Baker opening
There’s something to be said about a marching band in March, cod fish in Cape Cod, and a house concert in a house. Not that we don’t have plenty of exciting venues for house concerts here in southeast Florida, like churches and clubhouses and even shacks (and ohhhh… what a shack it is!). But some things just naturally go together like the creme in creme brulee. And the creme-de-la-creme of house-concerts-in-a-house routinely happen at Arlene Boumel’s home.
Last night (Saturday, February 11th), Arlene’s living room provided an intimate, family-like setting for two of Southern Illinois finest musicians: singer-songwriter Wil Maring (http://www.wilmaring.com) and guitarist/fiddler Robert Bowlin (http://www.robertbowlin.com). With their virtuoso talents firmly based in the folk-country music traditions of the American heartland, they performed twenty-two selections of inspired masterpieces. These included homages to their musical roots, like You Don’t Know Me (written by Cindy Walker & Eddy Arnold in 1955 and famously recorded by Ray Charles in 1962), My Old Kentucky Home (written by Stephen Foster around 1852), and Don’t Fence Me In (music by Cole Porter and lyrics by Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter, 1934). But where they truly shined was in performing their original works.
Now granted, Robert had recently recovered from a cold, but that fact would be like saying Mohamed Ali punched you with a twenty ounce glove instead of an eighteen ounce glove (lighter hurts more in boxing). What a punch this duo packed. Wil Maring’s song writing is superlative, which is evident by the fact she teaches it around the country wherever she goes, while Robert’s instrumental mastery has been sought after by both the Grand Ole Opry and for Nashville studio session work. Wil’s voice, the country cousin to Jill Solube’s angelic L.A. sound, was mesmerizing on her original pieces like Rows, Keeper Of The Farm, and Where The Ponies Run Free. Robert, on the other hand (or better yet, with both hands) breezed through his creations with such ease, speed and agility, that at times it didn’t seem quite possible that so many beautiful and intricately played notes could come out of one hand with one pick. Robert also has a beautiful voice (imagine James Taylor singing Kenny Loggins’ House At Pooh Corner), and listening to him play Maybelle, New Freedom, Made By Two and Django’s Waltz (a gypsy jazz tribute to Django Reinhardt), one felt transported to the heart of Nashville itself.
In addition to Wil and Robert, the evening was opened by Sam Baker (http://www.reverbnation.com/sambaker). Beginning with an a capella version of the civil war era Texas Rangers, Sam’s bold voice filled the room with visions of our bygone wild west. He then sang Canadian folk singer Valdy’s Killer Bees song, a hilarious tribute to those pesky stingers. But the highlight of Sam’s opening set was his finale performance of that depression era classic One Meatball. Originally written in 1855 by George Martin Lane under the title of The Lone Fish Ball, in 1944 it was reworked into its current version by the Tin Pan Alley duo of Hy Zaret and Lou Singer, and this weekend it was reborn as a house concert classic.
So keep the marching bands in March and the cods at the cape, and go to house concerts whenever you can, wherever they are. And though I’m sure I’d enjoy seeing them anywhere, Wil Maring, Robert Bowling and Sam Baker were phenomenal last night in Arlene Boumel’s living room. Welcome home.