LI Pulse Singer-Songwriter Series
@ The Cinema Arts Centre
When Bob Westcott was saying goodbye to everyone at the last installment of the LI Pulse Singer-Songwriter Series, it felt as if he was addressing an extended family or a group of old friends. Rich Stein and Mark Yodice had completed respective sets of incredibly evocative and mostly instrumental music. Although the conversation was still lively, it was getting late. No one really wanted to go home, but we knew we were headed that way. So when Bob’s sayonara to his friends hung in the air over us, we felt a kind of “until we meet again…this was awesome” energy, the domesticated equivalent to what a tribe must feel after certain stimulating ceremonies.
And if we were a tribe that night, the shamans did us right and lead us perfectly into our own journeys. Mark Yodice’s virtuosic guitar skills make his sometimes sweet and sometimes edgy complex compositions dance a lively and fresh extemporaneous dance. His dynamics draw us in with subtle and intricate secrets and wake us up to stunning explosions of string and wood. Similarly, Rich Stein’s guitar-based instrumental work dwells in stirring the ambient soup. While Mark’s work tends to lean toward the ether, Rich’s is grounded in melody and tune. One is more air and fire sign while the other is earth and water. I wonder if this corresponds to their actual zodiac signs or not.
What’s great about Rich Stein’s body of work is that for all of its technical precision and lofty construction it never feels too far removed from the sentiment that drew it up in the first place. I’ve written to his music, shared it with friends on long rides, and explored its contours in my mind. They’re something so irrevocably human about it, something that begs for understanding and connection. And when he’s joined by Andrew and Rebecca Perea (part of his Counterclockwise Ensemble), the results can be euphoric.
This was the first night of the series that featured just about all instrumental music. With the exception of the very talented songwriter/guitarist Jim Dexter providing vocals with Rich for part of his set (it was great to see two old friends keeping it going, by the way), the instruments were the only singers among us. And boy, did they have a lot to say. I hope some of you readers get a chance to hear them sing sometime soon.