JP and the Chatfield Boys & Cadillac Sky at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH, 6.5.10

JP and the Chatfield Boys

The evening began a little quietly with JP & the Chatfield Boys playing straight-up bluegrass of a somewhat sedate nature. While they’re certainly a skilled group, they were pretty by-the-book. But the harmonizing on “Midnight Moonlight” stood out, as did the fiddling on “Stoney Lonesome”. They would be a great group to catch at an evening outdoor event.

Cadillac Sky

A sure sign of a good show: when you, as an audience member, are exhausted, yet the band is still going.

To call a Cadillac Sky show a bluegrass show would be akin to attempting to recreate a Brueghel painting with one brushstroke – there is so much more going on. Cadillac Sky assured us they meant business by opening their 2-hour-plus set (from my calculations, but I didn’t pay close attention to what time they came out, so I may be off – I can tell you they played longer than I’ve seen any band play in years) with a high-energy rendition of “Trapped Under the Ice” that only hinted at the levels of energy and excitement they would build up as the night moved along. Exuberantly rambling through nearly all of the songs on their upcoming album, Letters in the Deep, all the songs from their Weary Angel EP and some earlier fare. My favorite CS song, “3rd Degree”, was wrenching. “Weary Angel” became a blistering rock-out with David Mayfield taking the lead on electric guitar. The Stanley Brothers’ “How Mountain Girls Can Love” was given the barbershop quartet treatment. And I may have embarrassed myself by actually jumping up and down to CS’s stellar cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

It was possibly the best show I’ve ever attended, combining elements from all of my past favorite shows: the joy of a Hothouse Flowers show, the fun and humor of a They Might Be Giants show, the crowd-hushing ability of an A.A. Bondy show, the heart-aching beauty of a Church (the Australian band) show, the full-on rock of a Black Keys show. There was laughter, dancing, booty-shaking, beatboxing (yes, seriously – and, yes, it worked), and it was difficult not to get choked up when Ohio-born David Mayfield grew teary-eyed as he sang the last verses of “Tired Old Phrases” (And I’m sorry for being so bad/To my dear old mother and dad/I threw some fits/They put up with it/And now I owe them all that I am. And some day when my folks meet their end/If by chance I live longer than them/For the love that they gave/And the music we made/I’ll be proud to have called them my friends.) to his parents, who were in the audience.

Inevitably, when I go to a show, I begin writing my review in my head as soon as the show is over. My initial review of the Cadillac Sky show was going to be one line: If you were in Cleveland the night of June 5 and weren’t at the Cadillac Sky show at the Beachland Ballroom, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? But perhaps berating you is not the best way to talk you into seeing Cadillac Sky when they play near you. How about this: Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog, Jennifer, said of the CS show she attended at Union Hall in New York that it was possibly the happiest she’s been at a rock concert in her life. A Cadillac Sky show makes you feel good to be alive.

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