Live Music Review //
Lys Guillorn, Mercy Choir, Derek Piotr, Craig Musa
May 26th, 2023
at Never Ending Books, New Haven CT

Additional photos can be found here :::

Summer is fast approaching and I was a little bit nervous about this show having a lot of people inside in the heat but as the night went on it cooled down outside and I never really quite felt as sweaty during this show as I thought that I would.  There was a good turn out as it seems like FiFac's House is growing every month and it just has become one of those must see shows at Never Ending Books.

Going into this show, it was Jess' first time at FiFac's House and when she asked me what to expect I told her it would be along the lines of electronic noise because that what they've usually been.  But looking back at the names later and after we got there I kind of realized this was more of a folk/singer-songwriter type of theme as every set would be one person with one instrument, such as someone would just play with an acoustic guitar for example.

One of the beautiful things about this show was that even though everyone had that "one person with an instrument" form of a singer-songwriter, they all had different instruments and some would sing, some would not and it just tied everyone together while also keeping them unique.  If you didn't remember the name of an artist, it'd be easy enough to describe a characteristic which separated them from the others.

Craig Musa was up first and that was a name that I had seen a lot of inside of the Connecticut music scene but hadn't seen perform live until now.   Craig Musa had an electric guitar plugged in and sang along to songs which were fairly loud.  The songs themselves were quite fun as they ranged from being a cover of a cover of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" to a song about racoons and Frank Reynolds as The Trashman.  

As someone who enjoys both trash pandas and IASIP, the lyrics and theme to this entire set of songs was appealing to me because it also wasn't just listening to someone sing songs about the traditional subjects most people have likely heard many times before.  This made both the lyrics and music of Craig Musa so unique and special.   I also must note how well Craig Musa covering "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" lead us into Derek Piotr, who was up second and sang folk songs. 

Many people might only know the song "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" from the Nirvana Unplugged album, but it is a traditional American folk song which can also be called "In the Pines" or "My Girl" and it just has this rich history of origin as well as artists who have covered it over the years.  Derek Pitor got up there and sang with no microphone, no other instruments, just a voice and a song.    

These were old folk songs and they had history behind them as well, with Derek Piotr telling us the stories in between.   Some of them were more serious and even sad, while others were about frogs and could be funny.  The idea of these songs being sung without any accompaniment was enough to hook me because it really made you focus on what was being said more than anything else.  But at the same time, hearing them and the stories in between felt like something from a library or museum.   It really felt like a history lesson that I enjoyed and I usually don't enjoy history.

Mercy Choir was up third and this was a voice + acoustic guitar, which was unique to this show, and it also just came out in a somewhat blues style more than anything else.   Somewhere between Joe Strummer and Johnny Cash, Mercy Choir just had that soul that you expect to hear in the blues but also music should just convey these feelings anyway but with Mercy Choir it felt like it was more on the surface.

And comparatively on this show, Craig Musa had more of a Ted Leo vibe where as Mercy Choir felt more blues influenced which just made it easy enough for the two artists singing with guitars to be distinguished from one another.   But hearing that soul in the folk songs by Derek Piotr prior to this also helped, as I felt like that was something from the south, and then it made the sound of Mercy Choir more like something you'd hear in New Orleans.  

Lys Guillorn headlined this show and did so with a lap steel guitar.  This added another different element to the show and while sometimes singing there was also a lot of music behind this set.   When you see the lap steel I think you might have that idea in your mind already of country or bluegrass, but this just also helped to make every artist feel like they were bringing something different to the stage while keeping all of the sounds adjacent to one another.

The show itself and the set of Lys Guillorn ended with a duo by having Jeff Dragan on stage performing electronics along with the lap steel.   This was a rather spatial sound that also became hypnotic at times where it could just leave you in a trance.   This just felt like such a wonderful note to end things on and in many ways it just also felt like in terms of sound that everything was coming full circle.  

Craig Musa can be found on SoundCloud here :::

Derek Piotr can be found on Bandcamp here :::

Mercy Choir can be found on Bandcamp here :::

Lys Guillorn can be found on Bandcamp here :::


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