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Amy LaVere: Live at The Variety Playhouse

by: Amy LaVere

Album Artwork

Amy LaVere Live
Variety Playhouse
Atlanta, Georgia 5/30/08
By James Calemine

                         “We gon’ pitch a wang dang doodle all night long…”
                                                           --Howlin Wolf/Willie Dixon

During this past week, Amy LaVere opened a few shows for the North Mississippi Allstars. Tomorrow--in Mississippi--counts as her band’s last show opening for the Allstars. Amy LaVere (stand-up bass/vocals), Paul Taylor (drums) and Steve Selvidge (guitar) opened their set with Carla Thomas’ “The Beat”. Next, for this nice intimate crowd they played “Me & My Washing Machine”…this trio performs well with one another on these songs. Amy’s latest album Anchors & Anvils contains well constructed songs produced by the Memphis luminary Jim Dickinson, and they transfer well to a live audience.

Amy’s percussive bass style augments Taylor’s beats as he keeps a close eye on her throughout the set. Steve Selvidge ranks as an accomplished guitarist who holds the melodic thread together as well as singing. “Take Or Leave Em” kept the crowd very attentive. Amy’s beauty and singing talent combined with the band’s hypnotic tone kept the audience in rapt attention. It was a hot night, but people seemed to cool down as Amy sang “I’m As Blue”. “People Get Mad”, a song from her latest disc, reminds these songs find their home in this time and place in history…

When Amy sings the song “Killing Him”—there’s no doubt the effect her voice transmits when singing certain words, phrases or verses…she’s a star. However, her beauty and talent cannot replace the aptitude of Taylor (who ranks as a formidable songwriter & multi-instrumentalist himself) and Selvidge (founder of Big Ass Truck) contributing to these well-crafted songs.

Luther Dickinson stepped out on stage right to lend a second-guitar sound that meshed very well with Selvidge. These musicians grew up together in the Memphis environs, so going town to town playing music with one another feels very familiar for them. Luther played on a song titled, I think, as “Troublin’ You”. For the final song, they turned up the heat and played a funky blues version of “Wang Dang Doodle”. Hearing Lavere’s voice on record proves emotive, but seeing her in person sing the songs…one might dare say she’s inspirational…

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