I delighted in a truly unique musical experience last night when I heard Round Mountain play at the Alberta Street Public House. My advisor, Dave, from Brandeis has a son-in-law in the band and had emailed me the date of their Portland show.
The Alberta St. Pub is a perfect small venue to get up close and personal with musicians. On the left side is your typical pub; on the right side is the music room, with seating built of church pews in rows. Commanding everyone’s attention, the two men up front seemed at first glance to predict that I would hear some folk music. Well, that guess was right, albeit completely wrong!
Char and Robbie Rothschild filled their small performance stage with large personalities, huge emotions, and an incredible array of instruments (all played AT ONCE!) so that melodies exploded from the stage. They managed to fit a rousing bit of irresistible drum-thumping into nearly every song, and also wound a lullaby here, a jig there, a Turkish riff maybe, then some complex djembe tapping, a trumpet played furiously to stir us into wriggles in our seats…
Ok, I don’t think I can explain it.
Robbie was the thumpmeister, playing the drum he was sitting on, one in front of him, a cymbal with his left foot and an electronic drum with his right while singing and entertaining the audience with stories and gracious thanks. Char had an accordion in his lap, and alternately sang and played the trumpet. Both of them periodically put down the instruments in their laps and picked up more. There was a guitar, a mandolin, some kind of harp made with a gourd – yeah, see, I am not doing this band justice. I was impressed they could hold it all together, not to mention make great music too!
So in the end I discovered Round Mountain’s version of folk music: it is not restricted to North American roots, but roots from other continents, roots from their families, and roots from their souls. The stories they shared were set to a brilliant mix of traditional music from all over the planet, and so are the instruments they employ.
(Thanks for the tip, Dave. It was awesome!)
They were followed by the incomparable Blue Cranes. Aptly named, I decided, while watching the crane-like movements of band member Becca, who plays keyboard and dances like a bird. I had to leave after a few songs because I’m 40 and I get tired. 🙂