Chris Barron (Spin Doctors)
Chris Barron (think Leonard Cohen meets Jack Johnson in a dive bar that was nice when Cole Porter used to hang out there) is best known as the lead singer of the band Spin Doctors. Chris plays nifty chords on an old Gibson to masterfully crafted songs that are poignant yet wistful and funny
Chris Barron is best known as the lead singer of the band Spin Doctors. What you maybe didn't know is that long before he was that goofy guy in the hat on MTV, he was an even goofier kid with an acoustic guitar. Chris plays nifty chords on an old Gibson to masterfully crafted songs that are poignant yet wistful and funny, all the while singing in a manner that's sweet and somewhat different from what you would expect if you only knew his hits, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes". Live, his stage patter is almost as entertaining as his singing. A powerful story teller, at once hilarious and thought provoking, Chris sets up his songs with anecdotes from a life on the road, from opening for and encountering legends like the Rolling Stones to Polar expeditions. He says, "I don't really think about what I'm going to say beforehand. I just say stuff and if it goes over well, I say more stuff like that later." A founding member of a band that's loved by millions of people the round world over, Chris' solo shows have all the lyric poetry and singing virtuosity that Spin Doctors fans appreciate along with a range of expression and songwriting that will delight and surprise.
Photo By Audra May Photography.
Shelly Valauskas of Shellye Valauskas Experience plays a rare solo gig for our Weekly Wind Down Happy Hour.
The Shellye Valauskas Experience's Box It Up is a box of secrets, surprises and delights. By the time she formed the band, vocalist/guitarist Shellye Valauskas was an established solo performer, winning the New Haven Advocate's Grand Band Slam readers' poll and rating a slot in New York's CMJ Marathon several years in a row. As her songwriting collaborator and bandmate, she enlisted ace guitarist Dean Falcone, who's served the Connecticut music scene since the early '80s with Jon Brion in The Excerpts, his own Dean and the Dragsters, and a host of others. Valauskas and Falcone's shared love for the punchy pop of Crowded House, The Posies and Aimee Mann, as well as the burgeoning Americana movement, helped them nail a distinctive yet accessible radio-friendly sound from the start. Drummer Bruce Crowder quickly mastered the intricate pacings and style shifts of the songs. The band's also been well served by a succession of team-player bassists, including Eric Lichter (who plays on the EP) and the new recruit Chuck Roscoe (a veteran of roots bands such as The Motel Preachers and The Sawbucks). In its native Connecticut, the band is as comfortable at major outdoor festivals such as the Meriden Daffodil Festival or New Haven's Ideat Village as they are music-friendly bars like Café Nine. They have shared the stage with such notable performers as Todd Rundgren, Melissa Ferrick, Ivy, Patty Griffin, Kristin Hersh, Pat Benatar, Amy Rigby, Merrie Amsterberg, Joe Pernice, Mike Viola, Shane Nicholson and Mary Lou Lord. In 2002 the band released their debut CD entitled The Stupid Truth which was well received by music critics and fans. The New Haven release party for the cd was a sold-out success and the album is currently receiving airplay on college stations throughout the tri-state area. 2008 brought the release of Box it Up which quickly gained the respect of local critics and fans alike. The EP was named one of the top 10 best local releases in the yearly round-up of both the New Haven Register and the local arts paper, The New Haven Advocate.
Peter Lucibelli is an enormously gifted singer-songwriter. “Pieces of Me,” his 2005 album, is a magisterial work that encompasses the range of human experience from the frustrations and joys of love, the wonder of parenthood, the reality of death, and the ephemeral fragility of people and places that are dear to us. “Fly,” the first soundtrack, is an upbeat instrumental piece, in major chords, which starts off smooth and easy on the ears and then moves quickly into a haunting profundity. I like it a lot. My major interest, however, is the human voice and I prefer songs with lyrics. Moving to Track 2, “Rearview Mirror,” after 20 seconds of intro the listener is treated to that most remarkable instrument of all, Lucibelli’s voice. As you continue through the album you will inevitably be impressed by his range of emotion. His phrasing is always lucid and his voice has a timbre and a range that can move from deep husky yearning to highly polished elegance and every stop in between. The words that immediately came to mind was “authenticity”. His voice always reflects the emotions of his songs and his songs treat many topics. Track 3, “It Don’t Matter” is a post break-up song which is plaintive and melancholy. The lyrics capture the emotions of denial with the nuances of deeply felt emotion underneath. Lucibelli’s songs for his son and his daughter are masterpieces. I thought of the poems that the Irish poet, Yeats, wrote for his son and daughter when I heard the excitement, joy, longing, and fulfillment of fatherhood in his words. Lucibelli’s song about his own father depicts some of his father’s gorgeous and plangent violin playing. It is very moving. Three songs that have already started to haunt me are “State Line,” “Leaving Soon” and “Old Stories by the Seaside.” The emotional range and depth of these songs are astonishing. They are highly personal and yet they deal with the universal emotions that all of us will reflect upon if we have the least philosophical bone in our bodies. These songs are profound yet accessible. I don’t much like making comparisons, but I would put Lucibelli as his own distinguished non-derivitive singer/songwriter/poet. His voice has little notes of Springsteen, Tom Waits, Jim Morrison, and Brian Eno and all fans of those voices should listen to Lucibelli whose voice is absolutely original. He is no copy of anyone. I would hesitate to put Lucibelli into any one niche. His voice and his music should appeal to the following: rockers, folk music lovers, people who love operatic voices, indie rockers, pop, progressive, and sundry other categories. He offers enough to keep almost all listeners happy. Take this journey! You will be moved and grateful.