Thursday, November 19, 2009

20 Days in November - Day 14: Uncle Dave Huber

While reviewing the previous 13 consecutive days of live music I realized that a blues artist failed to appear in the itinerary - so I was determined to rectify that omission. The usual suspects for Blues, Bangkok Blues and The Zoo Bar had a swing band and an open mic night - that didn't seem appealing - but I then noticed at that Uncle Dave Huber was playing at the 9th Lounge at Evening Star Cafe. The 9th Lounge is merely the top floor of the establishment. I've seen Huber scheduled over the last few months playing at wineries - and he's playing at both Black Ankle Vineyards and Frederick Cellars in the next few weeks. Huber is a Baltimore native and plays front porch style blues - inspired by early Dylan, Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen, plus the trailblazing artists that influenced them: Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and more importantly Mississippi John Hurt.

In fact, from what I've read about Hurt and saw this evening, Huber mimics Hurt's soft vocals. Or that impression was merely the result of playing at a venue where many patrons were more concerned conversing than listening. I guess that is one hazard when playing at bars; having to concentrate and perform when so few are actually listening. But there were a few attentive souls; and I liked what we heard. He played mostly originals, with a collection of covers from Robert Johnson ("Me and the Devil Blues"), Mississippi John Hurt, and Lead Belly("Midnight Special" and "In the Pines") - although I guess the later is considered a traditional American folk song made famous by Lead Belly.

His original songs are named such that the artist is at least cognizant of the traditions of wandering folk artists: "When The Water Rises", "Ramblin Gamblin'", and "Old Man Blues #6". And I wonder if his "Before The Devil Knows Your Dead" is a take off of the saying, "May you be in Heaven three days before the Devil knows you're dead". In his songs, I really appreciated the musical arrangements. I can't explain it - its just that his guitar playing just flowed nicely with the lyrics. Maybe its something to do with Huber's classical guitar playing. It just sounded good - even with the noise obstructions at the bar. I only heard the first set since I wanted to make the PinkJams fundraiser - but I'll be sure to visit one of his winery performances...or maybe two.

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