Abigail Washburn's sold-out concert at McCabe's was a pleasant and somewhat unexpected surprise, even though she is not a great singer, nor a virtuoso banjo player. On the other hand, her singing is much better than just "good enough" and so is her banjo playing. Now throw in a band made up of a few talented young musicians and the end result was an enjoyable evening full of good music and overall good vibes.
Abigail is typically described as a "banjo player", so I was expecting some breathtaking solos and occasional displays of virtuosity. Well, the crowd got none of that - her playing was subdued and essentially relegated to the background. But her band was great, and together they sounded quite good.
Kai Welch - Guitar, trumpet, keyboards, vocals
Rayna Gellert - Fiddle
Jamie Dick - Drums
John Estes - Upright bass
Kai Welch impressed me quite a bit. He's a good singer and is handy with instruments from very different families - how often can one see someone switch from guitar to keyboards to trumpet?
|The multi-talented Kai Welch|
The presence of drummer Jamie Dick on the stage led to a flurry of dick references, with Abigail taking center-stage, but it was all done in relatively good taste. I liked Jamie's "whistle talk", a short non-musical interlude that was quite amusing.
The highlight of the evening was "Nobody's Fault But Mine". They also played a couple of gospel songs that were very good. There was plenty of variety in Abigail's set, so my mind never had a chance to wander away. I even enjoyed her two Chinese-songs - I usually don't relate well to Asian music and I was stunned to see that her attempts to engage the crowd into a sing-along in Chinese were successful.
Husband Bela Fleck did not show up, but we all went home happy anyway.
|The stage just before the show|
|Abigail Washburn and most of the band at the end of the show|
|Abigail Washburn tuning between sets|
|Set list - Part 1|
|Set list - Part 2|
I went to the show with George, a Toronto-based childhood friend. It was his first time at McCabe's and he seemed to have liked the experience.
|My friend George at McCabe's|