Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sue Foley and Peter Karp @ Purple Fiddle

On the northwestern side of West Virginia's Potomac Highlands, a string of small towns lie together near the Caanan Valley ski areas. One of these towns, Thomas, is home to one of the most popular stops for artists traversing the east coast: The Purple Fiddle. For a historical narrative of the Purple Fiddle, please visit their website. No sense repeating that information here. But over the past year we have noticed how popular this venue is for both the artists and fans that we planned a trip to specifically visit this establishment. And fortunately the weekend we selected , one of our favorite blues woman was passing through: Sue Foley. We have been following Foley since her debut CD, released when she was barely an adult - 22 years old. She is awesome on the electric guitar and can pick with the best. Her companion this evening was Peter Karp - who we really did not know much about. The duo were at the tail end of their He Said-She Said tour supporting their CD of the same name to be released in February 2010. Apparently they are having problems finding a label that will stay in business.

The songs are based on correspondence between the pair while traveling - most often sharing the common burdens of life on the road or the difficulties penning a song. In one situation, Foley complains about spending the day walking around a German town and not being able to focus, whereas Karp replies, the song is there - you just got to find it. Other songs refer to their insecurities in a relationship or simply how they longed to be home. They are coy about their relationship - neither confirming or denying their relational status. But this arrangement wouldn't work if not for the chemistry between the two; you sense its presence throughout the night as they give subtle glances to each other during and after each song.

Foley exchanged her electric for an acoustic guitar which allowed her voice to shine - she sounds like one of the classical singers from the 40s and 50s. Brilliant. Hearing her voice, or maybe Karp playing the slide guitar were my favorite parts. Afterward I was able to listen to more of Karp's songwriting starting with one of the last songs of the night - Goodbye. He is clever - and has an unique enough delivery to keep you wanting to hear more. The CD should be good. There are songs were the compete picking as well as slow songs where Foley's voice shines. The are targeting Valentines for a release.

Back to the Purple Fiddle. This is a great venue. It is small enough where every seat gives you a good view, but large enough that you don't feel cramped. The decor is also interesting and worth walking around before a show. As a final plus, they serve local micro brews from Mountain State Brewing Company, other bottled micros, and $1.75 BPR. Something for everyone. Its also nice to see the Purple Fiddle and Mountain State Brewing Company having cordial relations considering the latter also hosts live music. The fabulous Larry Keel & Natural Bridge was playing this evening. But even with the venues splitting potential customers, a nice sized crowd materialized a the Purple Fiddle.

We'll be back to Thomas again very soon, hopefully for two nice to split between the two venues. If you are looking for a place to stay and can't get a room at the Purple Fiddle's guest house, we suggest the Bright Morning Inn in nearby Davis (only 2 miles away). Besides being a nice hotel, pets are welcome - that's important for us.

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