Some of the best music I’ve heard this year has been at house parties. Case in point: the Good Idea House on June 15, where local standouts Helios Eye and After the Bomb, Baby bookending a couple of stellar acts from Buffalo, NY, who stopped off here between stops in Athens and Panama City. Rebecca Ryskalczyk and A Hotel Nourishing made their local debuts at the first show held there since 2007, and it’s hard to imagine anything better happening that night.
Ryskalczyk’s name, despite the jokes, is easy to spell and easier to pronounce, even with a belly full of Anheuser-Busch products. She played solo in the den, with colored lights hanging from the chandelier, in a setting that would have made for fine pictures had I bothered to bring a camera with me. The mic stand was fashioned from a mop and a traffic cone, which made for good awkward fun while trying to clean up spilt beer later that night. Her voice cut through the crowd noise in a room where every sound seemed amplified, while her acoustic fingering was a precise and percussive as one might expect from a lady who shares a city with Ani DiFranco, who (while making exception to the vast hordes of quality bluegrass and gypsy swing-style players–something very much different) is arguably the most dynamic acoustic player this side of Hamell On Trial, whose playing can not and probably should not be duplicated.
Ryskalczyk’s set included her version of the New Order standard “Bizarre Love Triangle”, which goes in my book as the second-best version I’ve heard, behind Frente’s take from 15 years ago. (The original ranks #3.) While RR’s vocals failed to exceed those of Frente’s Angie Hart, she did open the song up by placing the last word of each line well behind the beat. Further, her guitar playing was far superior to any of the instrumental backings heard in previous versions.
A Hotel Nourishing, on the other hand, was pure power. Drummer Cam Rogers was the truth on his deep-blue Mapex kit, Watching them–a duo of guitar and drums–was a bit like what watching America Del Sur would be like after a couple years of serious playing. It was hard to hear Sonny Baker’s vocals, but the energy of the band’s delivery made it a moot point. Even the chandelier, swinging wildly like JFK on an acid trip, did nothing to sway their concentration.
Got to speak with them all later, and buy some CDs, before they collapsed in exhaustion on the floor of the Good Idea House. Such gentlemen to let Ryskalczyk take the couch!