Dar Williams Brings the Spirit of Folk Music to Landmark on Main

It was an evening of folk royalty on December 18th at Landmark on Main Street. The show, part of Landmark’s Fabulous Folk Series, featured Landmark favorite, Dar Williams @DarWilliamsTour, along with a special treat – opening act Lucy Wainwright Roche @LucyWRoche.

WFUV DJ John Platt introduced Roche, and described her voice as “angelic.” As soon as she took the stage and opened her mouth, I had to agree – angelic is the perfect word for the high, clear voice that rang through the theater like a bell. Roche has an impressive musical lineage. Her father, Louden Wainwright III (“Loudon Wainwright III Has Landmark Audience in Tears and Stitches“) has performed at Landmark several times, and her mother, Suzzy Roche, also performed at Landmark with her sister (and Lucy’s aunt) Maggie. Lucy is also half-sibling to Rufus and Martha Wainwright. Quite a heritage – and one that Lucy lives up to.

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During her (too) short set, Roche chatted with the somewhat surprised audience members, and even managed to get audience participation during a sing along cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.” Armed with just an acoustic guitar and her lovely voice, Roche performed some charming songs, including from her new CD Songs in the Dark (with half-sister Martha, as The Wainwright Sisters), and from her own catalogue. Particularly wonderful were “Seek & Hide” and “Last Time” from Roche’s second CD, There’s a Last Time for Everything. Roche’s quirky and endearing stage presence and stunning voice are well worth experiencing.

Dar Williams has performed at Landmark numerous times (“Dar Williams Fourth Time is a Chart at Landmark” and “Dar Williams Brings Smart Songwriting to Landmark“);  in fact, I believe this was her fifth performance there. Williams is touring in support of her excellent new CD, Emerald. Over the course of the evening, she played many new songs, including “Something to Get Through,” “Emerald,” “Slippery Slope,” and my two favorites, the haunting “Empty Plane” which starts with the words “I leave for a living…” and “Weight of the World” on which Roche joined in on harmony.

Williams was joined by Bryn Roberts (@BrynRobertsNYC) on piano and keyboard, and his musical additions rounded out the sound of Williams’ guitar. (Roberts is an accomplished jazz musician in his own right).

I’ve written this before, but it’s worth repeating – Williams is extremely bright, and this is evidenced in the lyrics of almost all of her songs. There are few performers who would even consider writing a song about the famous Stanley Milgram psychological experiment conducted in the 1960’s, yet that’s exactly what Williams did in “Buzzer.” (For those unfamiliar with the Milgram Experiment, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment). The audience was treated to a number of fan favorites, including “Spring Street,” “The Mercy of the Fallen,” and “Iowa” (with beautiful harmonies provided by Roche). I was particularly pleased that she performed two of my favorites – “The Babysitter’s Here” and the tear-inducing “The One Who Knows.”

Williams picked the perfect encore for the season – “Christians and Pagans” – which recounts the story of a Christmastime family gathering with some diverse (yet complementary) religious views. A wonderful end to a great evening of music.

Thank you to Martha Gorfein for supplying the pictures for this article.