Last Friday evening, August 7, 2009, Ok Hwa and I went up to Uncle Calvin's Coffee House to see Elizabeth Wills. I've been a fan of hers since seeing her on one of the local morning shows perform her great song "Half A Mind" about fifteen years ago. I went out and bought the CD, and listened to it a lot. I never did get a chance to see her perform back then, but used to see her name on playbills occasionally. After a while she seemed to fade from the local music scene, though.
I am an occasional volunteer at Uncle Calvin's, and usually get a weekly e-mail from them listing volunteer positions available for upcoming shows. When I saw the one for Elizabeth Wills, I signed up immediately. Volunteering to work a show gets you in to see the show for free, of course. I only had to buy a ticket for Ok Hwa. Not a bad deal. My usual volunteer job is to buss tables during the break, and after the show closes, and to help wash and put away the dishes when the night is over, not really much work.
Uncle Calvin's is a smoke-free, alcohol-free folk music venue, held in Northpark Presbyterian Church here in Dallas. It's one of the best listening rooms around for those who are really into the music. We checked in with the volunteer coordinator at 7:00 P.M., then went on in the auditorium to get a good seat before the crowd arrived. The room is not very large, so every seat affords a good view. I think originally the room was a fellowship hall, and is probably still used for that, however there is a very large professional stage along one wall taking up about one third of the room. Also, the kitchen facilities are adjacent to this room, helping tremendously with food & beverage service, and clean-up.
The show opened up at 8:00 P.M. with the first act, The Flyin' A's, husband and wife duo Hilary and Stuart Adamson from Austin. They put on a fun, upbeat show, playing about eight songs. Stuart is a really talented guitarist, and mandolinist, and writes some of the songs. Hilary writes some of the songs, also, and takes the lead vocal on those. You can find out more about them at www.theflyinas.com.
After intermission, and a little table bussing duties from yours truly, Elizabeth Wills came on. She was accompanied by a young lady violinist, and, pardon me, but I only caught her first name, Maryanne. Elizabeth alternated between slow, thoughtful songs and more upbeat numbers, and really it was the perfect mix. She is an incredible vocalist, who was born with a beautiful voice, and has learned how to use it to maximum effect. Also, to my delight, she turned out to be a way above average guitarist, with lots of techniques all her own. She and Maryanne blended their voices and instruments seamlessly. What a beautiful show. My only disappointment was that she did not do that song I first heard her do years ago, "Half A Mind". Oh, well, maybe next time. She did, however, close with one of my all time favorites by the great Joni Mitchell, "Both Sides Now", and what a great, loving treatment she gave it.
I was able to capture seven of the songs on video, from our front table seats. After closing, and my volunteer duties, I was able to talk with Elizabeth briefly, and what a nice person she is, also. I told her that I'd gotten a few videos of the performance, and asked her permission to put them on YouTube. She graciously gave her permission, except for one song. She mentioned some issues with her record label over that one.
For more about Elizabeth Wills, follow this link:
For more about Uncle Calvin's Coffee House, follow this link:
To see all the videos I made of Elizabeth Wills, and The Flyin' A's at Uncle Calvin's, go to my YouTube site, click on playlists, then click on "Uncle Calvin's", and they will be in there:
Keep listening to great music, and let me know what you find!