In some ways, Cozmic Pizza is not Eugene’s hippest, most desirable venue. It’s a big, vaulted echo chamber, so you don’t want to bring your rhythm section, unless you’re certain to fill the place with bodies to absorb the excess sonic boominess. However, it’s a right nice place for a Holly Brook / Shipe pair of intimate solo performances. Other venues in town have more built-in attendance, but it’s good to play for an audience that came to listen.
It was a decent crowd, between Holly’s considerable Facebook following, and my local cronies.
As for my set, it was a solid short one, with two highlights. First, I tried a new song: “No Use Crying Over a Spilt Life.” It’s a sad piece about dreams slipping away, musically influenced by the Irish musicians I chummed around with in North San Diego County.
For my second trick, I forced my wife Amy Wray to join me on the debut our country duet, “Hard to Believe.” This brought the house down. Video for this is forthcoming, and you’ll see why.
About Holly:she is a special artist. Looks good, sounds good. A consummate professional–on piano mostly, but adds guitar and lap dulcimer. Her voice is impeccable, haunting. With a theatre background, so she knows how to make the stage her home.
I met Holly’s mother, Candy, back in November while doing a two-night stand at Bandon Bill’s in Bandon, Oregon. She too is a professional musician–an acoustic diva in the style of Joni Mitchell. (She joined her daughter on stage for an amazing version of “Both Sides, Now.” It was one of those cover-tune moments when you say to yourself, “Wow, I forgot how good this song really was.”) Candy warned me about Holly, that she would be coming through the Northwest, and would probably impress the hell out of me. Parents are predictably proud, but in this case, they come off like colleagues just as much as family.
At one point, Holly introduced a song as being inspired by the “Twilight” series. That movie has the potential to make me vomit in my mouth a bit, but her song was outstanding–the best of her set, with Radiohead-like cadences in a soprano voice. Chills. (She is forgiven for the lapse in pop culture taste.)
Before the show, Holly was not very talkative, sitting quietly with her mother. Everybody is different in the way they deal with pre-show tension. I tend to be excitable and gregarious–if in a distracted way. (Let’s go ahead and call it manic.)
What impresses me is when artists take seriously their presentation, taking care of their performance to the utmost, even in the humblest of venues. Coffee Houses, taverns, restaurants… It always matters, especially when people pay to see and hear you.
After the show, she was more chatty, as if released and relieved. I was glad to hear more of her story.
Holly Brook was a signed Warner artist, frustrated in that major record labels typical frustrate their artists. Now she is on her own, managing her own career, which she seems ready to relish–particular the ability to release her own music any time she wants. She records on her own, at her home studio, which intrigues me, because, guess what, so do I.