Singer-songwriters Griffin House and Charlie Mars have embarked on an acoustic tour for a few weeks. Their first show of the tour started off at the lovely venue The City Winery in New York City off Varick St. What a way to start the week then watch some talented musicians, eat some delicious food and drink some wine (if that’s your thing).
This was the first time going to the City Winery and I was really impressed with the place. The venue is very big and there’s not a bad spot in the place (or so it seemed). The sound was great and so was the lighting. The atmosphere was excellent, just an elegant place to see some music. There’s barrels of wine downstairs, which is kind of cool to see when going to the bathroom. Also cool to see, Steve Earle was in attendance!
Griffin House came on stage to play first, and he admitted they tossed a coin to see who would go first. He said of course he lost since Charlie Mars is a gambling man. The first time I saw Griffin House or knew of his music was when he opened for The Cranberries last year or so at Nokia Theatre (now called Best Buy Theater). Since then, I’ve gotten all his music and especially love his latest album The Learner on Nettwerk.
Griffin started things off with “Liberty Line,” which was nice to hear. Griffin mixed his set with songs from his older albums, new songs, and a couple from The Learner. He’s currently working on music for a new acoustic album, which we got to hear some new tunes last night. I think the highlight of the night was hearing a song that was a murder ballad. Let’s just say it got the biggest applauds and laughter for the set. It sounded like a Stephen Lynch song a little bit. I also loved hearing “River City Lights,” “Standing at the Station,” and “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You Is Out of His Mind.” Griffin played for 45 minutes to an hour and then Charlie Mars came on.
I wasn’t familiar with Charlie’s music and all honestly, I didn’t know how long I was going to stick around. I ended up staying the entire gig because I liked his music and thought he had a certain charm and humor to his stories and songs that made him really likable. Charlie’s singing style had a bit of a reggae flavor, combined with a bit of acoustic Southern flair…If that makes any sense at all. Kind of like Sublime meets Jack Johnson, but a guy from Mississippi singing instead of a surfer. Songs that stood out from Charlie were “Meet Me At the Back Door,” and “Listen to the Dark Side.” I’d list more songs but I simply don’t know the titles of them. One thing is for certain, I’ll definitely be getting Charlie’s music after seeing last night.
After Charlie performed by himself for a bit, he called Griffin back on to the stage and they did a set alternating between their own material. At one point, they did a nice version together of Griffin’s “Better Than Love.” I have a bad memory but I’m pretty sure it was that one? What I loved about both Griffin House and Charlie Mars’ sets were the stories in between songs. It’s one thing to listen to a singer-songwriter on a CD, but seeing them live in something completely different. You get to see how that musician works with the crowd, see their charm, or humor. I loved hearing songs from Griffin about smoking pot with Willie Nelson and just all the little stories. Charlie had some funny stories about Tommy Stinson from the Replacements stealing his hat the night before and how he pulled a wedding song out of his ass for a friend. It’s stories like that make it a no-brainer to go check out these guys on the road. It doesn’t hurt that they are both gifted and talented musicians.
Check out some shots from the show:
Check out the rest of the photos from both guys at the links below: