Halloween Treats From Elenowen, Lera Lynn

Halloween Treats From Elenowen, Lera Lynn

  • Article by: Jamie McCormick, Photo by: Jamie McCormick
  • Posted: 11/08/2011

The Halloween installment of Lighting 100's weekly program Nashville Sunday Night, broadcast live from 3rd and Lindsley, brought listeners in the room and across the city the easy musical stylings of Elenowen and Lera Lynn.

Radio listeners missed Lera Lynn’s elaborate Dia de los Muertos makeup which set the Halloween mood, but other than that, Lynn kept the staging simple, supported only by a bassist, a guitarist and a drummer. But despite the simple setting, their music itself was complex. Lynn launched into a bluesy, gritty set of slow and soulful strains that held perfect pitch with the ambience of blue lighting, adding crisp, sliding vocals that sliced through the room. As the set progressed, Lynn's vocals grew more insistent, more compelling, shifting from a lofty vibrato to a low rumble in an instant. With wailing guitar solos singing harmony, her words lingered in the air, haunting reminders of the pain behind the lyrics.

Late in the set and in the Halloween spirit, Lynn paid tribute to The Man in Black and lit into Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Lynn brought a new flavor to the well-worn classic, and she squeezed the blues out of every note. Transforming the driving beat of the original into a slow, meandering saunter, she let the audience roast in the flames while she swooped through the melody on top of hammering solos from guitarist Ben Lewis, who used his beer bottle as a makeshift slide. Sombre while still being playful, Lynn and her bandmates displayed major talent.

Elenowen flipped the atmosphere upside down, filling the stage with a seven-man band that included shakers, a slide guitar and a hammer dulcimer, and pepping up the tempo and tone. Although during the first couple of upbeat folk-inflected tunes, they had to fight some minor pitch problems while looking for their groove, they found it in short order and stayed there. Josh Johnson put his striking falsetto on full display, stretching to fly with Nicole Johnson's soaring vocals, and the two voices with one mind sang about what makes us human.

The crowd felt the insistent impact of two songs in particular, both played midset. With thumping bass line and harmonic thud of chords, “The Storm” brought swirling weather into the room, shaking up the crowd and compelling them to put down their chicken fingers and prepare for the tempest. The savory vocal cry for help in “Save Me” followed soon after, bringing the tempo down to its slowest ballad levels and allowing the voices plenty of room to move and mingle inside of the music. An all-acoustic section of the set provided space for Josh to show off his fingerpicking skills and to spotlight the harmonies, which were tightest with the quieter accompaniment.

After the radio broadcast ended, Elenowen stuck around for a few more tunes, giving back to all those who had made it out despite the chilly night. Nicole made a few jokes about letting out all of the “swear words” suppressed during the radio broadcast, and then the Johnsons capped a highly charismatic show.

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