Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 14, 2008

The Nields, Shawn Mullins, Dar Williams

Calvin Theater, Northampton, MA
April 12, 2008
by Eric Sutter

The Nields from Western, MA performed songs from their current release "Sister Holler" at the Calvin. The14th recording in their career, it emphasized an abundance of old folk songs mixed witha surprisingly new radical edge. Of course, the trademark harmonies of the sister duo of Nerissa and Katryna Nields was intact as they sang the popular anthem "This Train." With Nerissa on folk guitar, the pair were joined by Dar Williams on keyboards and sang three part harmony on "Endless Day" to glorious effect. The sisters harmonized their hit "Easy People," which had the audience singing. Their close was the blues of "When I'm Here."

Native Georgian, Shawn Mullins sang a plethora of folk-rock and blues songs to an appreciative audience. "Shimmer" was the Australian's Olympic Team anthem. He continued in sequence of character sketch song-stories of humanity from his latest disc, "Honeydew." Tales of genuine heartache tugged at the heart and pleaded for the listener's ear. A plainspoken power was reflected in his voice as he sang "For America," which outlined the story of an Iraqi War veteran's loss of a limb. He performed the"Scrubs" theme song "All in My Head." The mellow psychedelic country "Blue As You" set the tone for a couple of hits with "Beautiful Wreck" and his Top 10 hit "Lullaby," for which he received a Grammy nomination.

Dar Williams capped off the evening of music in her resonant folk-pop style that worked her life scenarios into music that connected with the audience. Although she continued to have problems with tuning her guitar, the beautifully-voiced songbird sang lovely renditions of favorites, "Calling the Moon," "The Babysitter's Here" and "Book of Love." With humor and wit, she called out Shawn Mullins to join her in a duet of "Comfortably Numb." Williams' clear high voice and acoustic guitar on "Mercy of the Fallen" was backed by Nields. This was pleasant folk-pop for Northampton.