Amy Speace and the Tearjerks/Swamp Cabbage at the Goldhawk Lounge, Hoboken NJ, January 19, 2006

On Thursday January 19, Amy Speace and the Tearjerks played a double bill with Swamp Cabbage at the Goldhawk Lounge in Hoboken, New Jersey. Baltimore native Amy Speace had first come to my attention when a song of hers called "Not The Heartless Kind" appeared on a sampler CD in an issue of Paste magazine. That particular song was one of many she played Thursday night from her forthcoming CD Songs for Bright Street, due out in April. Amy and the Tearjerks perform a very straightforward style of no-frills country rock; Amy plays acoustic guitar, Rich Feridun plays lead guitar, Matt Lindsay plays bass, and Jagoda plays drums. There may not be anything new or noteworthy about their style of playing, but Speace wins over her audiences by combining a strong voice with some down-to-earth charm and witty and often humorous lyrics. For example, in "Not the Heartless Kind," Speace recites a litany of unpleasant things she could inflict on an ex-lover -- if she was the kind of person who'd do that. "Double Wide Trailer" is a love story that good-heartedly pokes some fun at southern country stereotypes. Her best chance for a hit, though, appears to be the defiant take-me-as-I-come-or-else anthem "The Real Thing," several lines of which elicited shouts of approval from the audience. Speace and the Tearjerks also threw in one cover, a disturbingly effective Texas two-step arrangement of Blondie's "Dreaming."

Conveniently, Matt Lindsay and Jagoda also make up two thirds of the second act Swamp Cabbage. The trio is completed by guitarist and vocalist Walter Parks. Swamp Cabbage play the same kind of down and dirty guitar boogie popularized by ZZ Top. Parks even plays and sings like Billy Gibbons, so if you like ZZ Top's sound you'll have no difficulty getting into Swamp Cabbage. Like Amy Speace, Swamp Cabbage threw one cover into the mix, opening with a rendition of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein." Their set was entertaining not just for the music, but also for Parks' amusing anecdotes about growing up in northern Florida. For what it's worth, I now know what "grunting for worms" is, although I can't say I have any immediate plans to try it.

The double bill turned out to be a pretty good two hours of music for a minimal price in a nice setting. The Goldhawk Lounge has a decent-sized lounge room with an assortment of chairs, tables, booths, and couches to choose from, making the overall atmosphere quite warm and cozy. (And it should only get warmer and cozier once the smoking ban takes effect.) Both acts play a lot in the metropolitan area, and I'd particularly recommend checking out Amy Speace if you get the chance. Her songs are good enough that she should hopefully soon earn a place of high distinction among the legion of female singer-songwriters armed with acoustic guitars. And if not, well, at least you can still catch some good music around town for the price of a drink or two plus $5 in the tip jar.

Also Reviewed:

Songs For Bright Street

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