BWW CD Reviews: Michael Cerveris & Loose Cattle's NORTH OF HOUSTON Live at 54 BELOW is Twangy Country Bliss
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Michael Cerveris & Loose Cattle took to the stage in Broadway's living room at 54 BELOW. Despite public transportation and in the face of power outages, the band and fans braved the inclement conditions to revel in the beauty and spirit of live music. Recorded across four performances, including Friday, November 2, 2012 (the Friday after the storm), the resilient spirit of the denizens of New York City and the reparative nature of live music is tangible and wholly affecting on NORTH OF HOUSTON - Live at 54 BELOW.
With a band name like Michael Cerveris & Loose Cattle, there is no surprise that the album bops along with a country twang; however, it is still a surprise that Michael Cerveris and his band mates (whether Southern by choice or Southern by birth) would perform with such an authentic country-western flair. Utilizing acoustic guitars, mandolins, an electric guitar, a pedal steel guitar, a fiddle, an acoustic and electric bass, a sousaphone, drums, a harmonica, and the dulcet crooning of both Michael Cerveris and Kimberly Kaye the album springs to vivid life like a Southern farm in the height of a plentiful spring. This aesthetic definitely sets the album apart from other Live at 54 BELOW recordings and easily makes it one of my absolute favorites so far.
With a soundscape that reminds me so much of own childhood in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, NORTH OF HOUSTON - Live at 54 BELOW charms and beguiles with its infectious twang, pluck, and strum. Listening to the album, audiences will imagine a large hardwood dance floor where happy couples Texas Two Step in boots, pearl snap shirts, and hats to the enlivening and engrossing performances. Standouts tracks include "Electricity," the stirring "Raise Hell," the tenderly beautiful "Evangeline" written by Michael Cerveris, the up-tempo and playful "Run That By Me One More Time," a plucky and fun rendition of "Pinabll Wizard," and the cleverly hilarious, memorable, and impeccably cheeky mash up of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and Cee-Lo Green's "F**k You," titled "Jolene, F**k You."
Unlike other entries in the series, the patter between songs is minimal. As a listener at home, I'm saddened not to get experience Michael Cerveris & Loose Cattle's personalities more; however, their mesmerizing musical performances more than make up for the missing anecdotes and conversation.
After hearing Michael Cerveris and Loose Cattle's NORTH OF HOUSTON - Live at 54 BELOW, I can only hope they'll take their show on the road. I would love the opportunity to experience this band live and in person in my neck of the woods. Houston audiences would be simply bowled over by the sheer talent and dazzling musicianship showcased on this album just as anyone who listens to the album will be.
Michael Cerveris & Loose Cattle's NORTH OF HOUSTON - Live at 54 BELOW, released by Broadway Records, was made available digitally on November 15, 2013. Physical copes of the album were released on November 19. The recording can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.
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Image courtesy of Broadway Records.