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Concert Reviews: Brian Webb, Trina Hamlin and Lis Harvey

Brian Webb, Trina Hamlin and Lis Harvey
Club Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA
April 26, 2004
By: Sara Zeno

Music's purest expression is the distillation of a lone voice and guitar. Its potency can be unexpected yet wholly natural. Singer-songwriters remind us of this power.

On a balmy evening at the classy Club Café in Pittsburgh's South Side, Trina Hamlin, Brian Webb and Lis Harvey played in the round. It wasn't meant to be that way--- they were each going to have their own timeslot--- but Harvey suggested it right before the show, and Hamlin and Webb accepted. In so doing, they proved sometimes the best moments in life are spontaneous.

Each is a fantastic storyteller, complimenting the others with their different styles. Hamlin has an earthy, deeply rich voice. Webb's quietly mild demeanor belies his passion and prowess on the guitar. And Harvey is a bit mischievous with a light air about her.

Standout performances include Webb's rendering of Joshua, a sweetly wistful song in which Webb's guitar and voice were so in synch with each other they became one instrument. Harvey captured the audience's imagination with a "song about superheroes and how we're not" that contained lyrics about Wonder Woman and Nancy Drew. And Hamlin mesmerized everyone with her deep and vibrant performance of Down to the Hollow, which she prefaced by saying, "I'm gonna play a traditional Minnesotan blues number." Local singer-songwriter Bill Deasy also surfaced to sing the chorus on Webb's song Shame much to the delight of the crowd.

Though the audience was fairly small, they were an attentive bunch. For about the first half of the show, they were politely appreciative, but as everyone grew more comfortable with the room, soon the connection between audience and performers became palpable and they began bantering back and forth. When someone's cell phone rang, Webb joked, "At least it's not an intimate audience where anyone will notice." By the end of the night, when the three exited, someone shouted, "Let's get 'em back!" and the clapping didn't stop until they returned to stage for an encore.

The spring evening was filled with the completely common and yet utterly extraordinary gift of music, taking its place alongside the everyday magic of being alive.