Shipe in Lewiston (Idaho)

Back in my surrogate home of Lewiston/Clarkston, last night was a superlative, truly unplugged, gig at La Boheme.

When I say unplugged, I mean no microphones, no amplifiers, and no P.A., in an intimate venue, with an audience accustomed to listening quietly. I gotta tell you it’s lovely.

I was a accompanied by Scott Cargill and his lineup from 7 Devils, who nailed these arrangements on the fly. Outstanding musicians, and great friends, they had brushed-up shortly before my arrival. We had minimal discussion, ran through a couple songs, and called ourselves ready. It could not have gone better.

The Devils: Nathanael Tucker on Fiddle, Jim Laws on percussion, Scott Cargill on mandolin, and Ryan B. Gibler on bass (who managed songs he has never even heard before.)

My close friend Scott is the perfect musician to do this sort of total acoustic set-up. As a deep, knowledgeable fan of roots combos driven by mandos, banjos & stand-up basses, he has the attitude for it. His mando strumming is relentlessly in-the-pocket! Together with Jim on the percussion (handling such quiet volume with authority, emotion and dynamics) I felt comfortable rhythmically — more than usual.

Fiddler Nathanael, in the unplugged format, marvels at “being the loudest instrument in the ensemble.” But with such sweet tone and phrasing, it’s a good thing. The country-ish material went particularly well with fiddle: “Villain,” “Honky Tonk Romans,” “Like Some Folks Do,” and “Some Hidden Things ” (which features a whole string section on the studio album).

We closed the show with “What Right Do We Have to Fall in Love?” The Devils didn’t know this one at all, but damn if they didn’t turn it into the big finale!

Nathanael is also the owner of La Boheme. I exhort my acoustic colleagues to get in touch with him sooner than later. A great, relaxed host, he produces special shows, taking care of both the audience and his fellow artists. He comes from a family of musicians (brother of Simon Tucker), so he knows what matters.

Tonight, Scott joins me for a duo show at Eichardt’s in Sandpoint. Come Saturday, we get take the 7-Devils/Shipe combo to the next level @ Hogan’s in Clarkston.