Friday, December 29, 2006

Jenn Wertz-- "Shotgun Sessions"

It was nice to get out and see a live show after the hectic holidays. Theresa and I went to see her sister, Jenn Wertz, perform at Club Cafe in the South Side December 27 with opener, Gary Musisko. We got there early enough to grab some seats -- lucky thing, too, because the show sold out early.

I've seen Jenn perform with Rusted Root but never with her old band, Isabella, featuring guitarist Frank Danyo, drummer "Shaggy" Frank Marcello, and bassist Randy Venturini. Jenn played acoustic guitar and sang up a bluesy, alt-country, rockin' storm. She's personable on stage and connects with longtime and new fans by sharing insights about the songs and joking with fellow bandmates. You can tell they're old friends by the way they work together and have fun. Her voice sounded GREAT!

At one point during the show, a woman began dancing in front of the stage and before we knew it, strolled up behind Jenn onstage and began dancing very closely to her. Everyone was taken back and Jenn played it off well before the bouncers grabbed her. Guitarist Frank Danyo put her and the audience at ease when he playfully moved behind her, mimicking the dancing drunk. Note to self: Unless you've been asked to share the stage, it's just rude to assume you can.

Root fans should get out and see them on their next tour opening February 7 in Allentown and continuing across the east coast until March at the Chicago House of Blues. Jenn mentioned that this may be the last tour with her as she branches out in different directions. She's been touring with RR since 1990. Liz Berlin has also done some solo work as has Michael Glabicki. Michael has formed a new group on the side. Former Root drummer, J.D. (Jim Donovan), will be drumming it up for Pittsburgh's First Night celebration New Year's Eve.

I can't close without mentioning the awesome performance by opener Gary Musisko. Gary's voice reminds me of Jeff Buckley or Thom Yorke from Radiohead. His show was passionate and engaging. It's a shame that more of the people crowding in didn't get to hear his show because they were talking and ordering up drinks. Damn shame! They missed a great show. Gary has a lot of promise and is currently recording his first CD due out in a month.

Jenn will be performing January 13th in Erie (at Docksiders) and in July at the 16th Annual Great Blue Heron Music Festival. Get out and support local bands!


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