In the wake of the beautiful first official release Lightness Red Hunter and company settled in at the Mohawk for an intimate Peter and the Wolf show. Only a few songs from the new album made it onto the setlist, and even those seemed characteristically off-the-cuff. But along with openers The Interest Kills and the Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band, the evening proved to be an interesting and rewarding mixture of sounds.
The Charles Potts Magic Windmill Band is always a somewhat strange group to watch. With Travis Catsull and Reed Posey sitting front and center with glasses of whiskey to accompany their harmonizing, the group spun out their offbeat folk (or self-proclaimed “New York City Experimental Country”) that would fit in line with Peter and the Wolf’s more eccentric inclinations. The group seems to carry a slightly ironic tone, a playfulness that is nonetheless quite serious - apparent on songs like “Finish Malaysia” and “Airwolf.” They also hit “Run Johnny Run,” which may have been the highlight of the set along with the retrofitted power ballad “Becky.” They closed out with “Favorite Ditch,” the opener from their 2005 debut CD. You can check out more about CPMWB in their Sound Off profile from last month.
Holding down the middle spot on the bill, The Interest Kills were perhaps the odd band out between the folk of CPMWB and Peter and the Wolf. After a bit of trouble getting the vocal set up just right, the group put together a solid set of down-tempo pop. Whether it was the sound that was more set up for the acoustic parts of the evening or just the new group hammering out the live show, the songs seemed a little murky even in their moodiness, but also showing some solid songwriting that would likely come together really well in the studio.
Peter and the Wolf emerged for the evening as a trio, which included the Weird Weeds’ Nick Hennies on drums. Most of the set had the feel of an improvised, low-key jam session, especially as Hunter worked out songs on his erhu, a two-string Chinese fiddle with a Boa Constrictor in the neck that he seemed to take great pride in. While often noone on the stage seemed to know exactly where the set was headed, Hunter’s songs were still charming and the setting intimate enough for it to not really matter. On “Anna Maria” Hunter showcased some pitch perfect whistling while “Dear Old Robyn” was transformed into a rollicking Dylan-esque folk tune. He closed out the set with the beautiful “Silent Movies.” Although it would have been nice to have had some female accompaniment like Dana Falconberry provides on the album, a Peter and the Wolf show is always a rather informal and unexpected affair where you’re never sure what you might get.