Walking through Deep Ellum after sunset on a concert night is an exercise in anticipation if you're going out to see live music. You can see and hear gigs being set up everywhere, people rolling in and out of bars. There's something in the air. Coming into Dada in good time before the first band sets up, it's fantastic to just get a beer and sit out on the patio, secure in the knowledge that the music's still to come and the whole night stretches out before you.
This is the kind of mood The Cave Singers retrospectively put you in. You can look back on a good night, full of happy memories, just from seeing a band who've done nothing spectacular but play a delightful folk-blues set full of rhythm and fantastic melodies. The intricate guitar work of Derek Fudesco, a whirling dervish of a guitarist, the sort who plays his guitar as high up his body as possible and puts himself fully into each strum and plucked note, is the perfect accompaniment to Pete Quirk's raspy and strained vocals, delivered in a higher register than most but full of body and soul.
There's something of the authentic Americana about them, a characteristic that, for all its faults, is highly prized in Europe because of the romanticized notions we have about such things, and perhaps that's why I find The Cave Singers such a compelling live act. It's a perfectly paced set, progressing from quieter, thoughtful, folkier numbers (I particularly liked "Canopy" off the new album) into a full-on blues stomp, as the main set finishes up with a version of the one-riff old-school blues tune "Black Leaf."
The Cave Singers are the kind of pleasant band that you wish your friends were in, the sort that you'd go out and see all the time because they're genuinely good, not out of a sense of duty. They're just a plain old good time, and as the night grew older and the set grew in noise and pace, there were smiles and dancing all around a middling Dada crowd.
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The encore finally sees the band let loose, and as Quirk threw himself about the stage, something approaching a bluesy moshpit broke out down the front, the drummer opened up, and the final crescendo of stomping good times built up around the venue and dissipated into applause. The crowd let out into the night, or onto the gigantic Dada patio, another excellent Deep Ellum night in the books. If the Cave Singers come back into town any time soon, make them part of your night out. You'll have a perfect evening.