News Articles

SUN FEB 2,2003
-Review by Randy Shields
Impact Weekly pg 23
March 6-12, 2003


 A show I can really rhapsodize about was the Feb 2 Songwriters-In-The-Round at Canal Street Tavern. Sometimes, affectionately, known as the “songwrongers”, SITR costs $5. and for that you can hear about nine local and regional playing four or five songs each. The best thing about SITR is the element of chance- Little known players show up and sometimes knock the cover off the ball and veterans try out new material.

  Tod Weidner’s clever lyrics and assured performance typically blows away anyone else on the SITR bill. He was good this evening (I’ve seen him much better) but Emily Strand, Eric Loy and Craig Houston upped the ante considerably.

  Emily Strand jumps out from the sea of strummers and singers because of great song construction, a low tolerance for boredom and a voice that can go anywhere she wants. Her debut album, Evansville, is terrific but the unrecorded newer songs that she played on this night such as “Voodoo Doll” and “Delay In The Connection” were twice as good.     Strand and Weidner shared the stage with Eric Loy, who may as well have been a six foot tall T-Rex, because that’s the kind of awe he inspired in everyone. The air was palpable with thoughts of “What in the ____is he going to do next?”

  Loy’s guitar was 70 percent stringed instrument and 30 percent percussion, as he stood playing instrumentals. His all-out aggressive style mixed blazing runs with rapping and pounding all over the guitar. Although the songs could stand some better melodies for his launching pads, Loy’s speed, freedom, technical wizardry and supreme joy in playing are what it’s all about. He was the coldest drink on the hottest day. Then he brought out his custom-made harp-guitar: two necks, three holes and 24 strings- which was like giving Picasso 50 colors he’d never used before.

  Bracing as Loy was, my favorite on this night was pianist Craig Houston, who put it all together; passionate singing, powerful playing and great song construction dynamics. He didn’t so much wear his heart on his sleeve as rip it out and put it on our sleeves. His booming octaves and cathartic passages shook the corner of First Street and Patterson Boulevard as well as any individual musician I’ve seen.

  I don’t know what heights Weidner, Strand , Loy and Houston can reach but, in my book, the have already arrived. Many performances at SITR are so great that I wish Canal Street Tavern could record and sell them. As much as Loy and Houston’s performances are burned into my memory, I’d rather have them burned onto disc.