Thursday, March 18, 2010

a new believer in the old believers

I was lucky enough to see the graceful Laura Veirs play to a crowd in her hometown a couple weeks ago, (for my review, click yonder for my Reverb write up), and was of course swept away by her performance. But in the small venue in Manitou Springs, I was captured by another performance.

Opening for Laura Veirs were two groups, and their scattered members performing solo, Cataldo and Old Believers. I was settled into my chair, squirming about in anticipation for Veirs' set, when Nelson Kempf of Old Believers stepped on stage. He was so unassuming that for a moment I didn't notice his presence...until he started stomping and singing with his hands behind his back an acapella piece filled with so much soul that I forgot a human voice could hold that much melody.

My friend who accompanied me that evening looked over at me, and I looked over at her, and we both knew that this was something special.

Old Believers, when paired with instruments and other members, lay down groovy beats with infectious soul. Lyrics as profound as any American folk hero, and songs that are so much fun that Kempf pulled the whole audience into singing along for my favorite song of the evening (and perhaps my favorite new song), It's With You Now.

The recorded version of the song is incredibly different from the live version, which was beautiful in large part because of Kempf's earnest and stripped vocals, so for a listen at what Kempf's raw voice sounds like, please indulge in this video, where his guitar belies that inherent rhythmic genius this man has. He can create a beat out of nowhere, and I love it.

Old Believers have an album out, Eight Golden Greats, that was released in 2008 under the Brave Records label and it's been helping me sway through my days in such a light and lovely way.

That's All- Old Believers

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