Five folk bands on a frosty night filled the Gates of Heaven Synagogue on Thursday, October 28th. The lineup: Dan Mitchell (Milwaukee), Steev Baker (Milwaukee), Cedarwell (Sheboygan), Pioneer (Madison), and Blessed Feathers (Milwaukee).
Dan Mitchell started things off amidst a respectable sized crowd clad in insulated overalls and many a pair of mittens. Dan was joined by Amanda Huff for their debut show together. As they started into their set, I couldn’t help but wonder how two people with such strong voices found each other and decided to team up. The result was powerful crescendos accompanied by either acoustic guitar (Dan) or ukulele (Amanda). The first time I saw Dan play, he was improvising a set at a house show so this set was remarkably different. The set was structured and, simply put, amazing. His opening performance raised the bar high and those that missed the early starting time truly missed out on something great.
Next was Steev Baker from Milwaukee. His band consisted of a pianist (who played the occasional xylophone) and bassist with him on vocals and guitar. This was the first time I’d seen Steev Baker, though I had heard good things about him from Donivan from Blessed Feathers. His passionate set filled the space with good folky tunes and intense lyrics.
Playing their second show at the Gates of Heaven, Cedarwell from Sheboygan came to impress everyone once again with their harmonious, heartbreaking lyrics and stage energy. I especially enjoyed “Untitled” with it’s rolling drum beat and intensifying vocals. Their lyrics and range of vocal power create such a beautiful sound– perfect for a cozy synagogue setting. Cedarwell truly is a Wisconsin band, and I’ve consistently been impressed with their live shows.
A folk show in Madison wouldn’t be complete without a set by Pioneer. Roger Barts was back with Kenny and Jackie on the drums, which added an extra layer to their lovely cello and acoustic guitar set up. Kenny’s warm voice filled up the the synagogue and was amplified by Jackie’s beautiful cello part. As we’ve probably said in the past, these guys get better and better each time they play.
Capping off a great night of music was Blessed Feathers from Milwaukee. As mentioned in an early post, I fell for their E.P. some time ago. This was their first show in Madison and my first time seeing them live. They have a three person set up with drums, accordion and guitar. My favorite song they performed was, “Sparrow”, which is a tragically beautiful track about a dog.
Blessed Feathers will be back in Madison on November 13th to play at the Project Lodge with Meridene so don’t miss them!