A hot, sticky and sometimes stormy Saturday, October 6 didn’t stop Folkfest St. Pete from taking place at Albert Whitted Park near the bayfront in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. I went there to check out a couple of acts who played at the event, which benefits a local non-profit arts organization called Creative Clay.
One of these was Jayne Kelli, a St. Pete-based singer and guitarist who was the female half of a mixed guitar duo; with male partner was A.J. Swearingen. The duo performed an interesting and rather folksy set that included such originals as “Amends”, “Spies”, “Selfish Man” [with the two joined by harmonica player Tim Poole] and “From the Ground” [accompanied on violin by Rebecca Zapen], as well as a cover of that 1967 Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel hit “The Sounds of Silence”, which was quite a showcase of the duo’s harmonies.
Jayne & A.J. usually play Wednesday night gigs at a St. Pete area pub, so it was quite unusual, as Jayne herself mentioned on stage, for them to perform in the middle of the day.
Later, as the sun went down, out came the headliners, Antigone Rising. Not familiar with them? Well, this all-female band out of New York has been around for about 20 years, and had their breakthrough moment as part of Sarah MacLachlan’s Lilith Fair tour in the late 1990’s, and have since toured with everyone from The Bangles and Joan Jett [whose Blackheart Records label AR is currently on] to Aerosmith and the Stones. Even their tour of Israel earlier this year can be considered a breakthrough in its own right. Sisters and co-founders Cathy Henderson on lead guitar, and Kristin Henderson on bass, both of whom many of AR’s fans refer to as the Hendos, were on stage along with singer/guitarist Nini Camps and drummer Dena Tauriello.
Cathy Henderson, Lead Guitarist of Antigone Rising
R delivered a strong and consistent sound that can appeal to anyone who’s heard today’s brand of country music, but without the twang. And when you throw in some great lead guitar work by Cathy, there’s no sense in labeling them as some country band. Their style shows in songs like what they did that night: “Everywhere is Home”, “One Foot In” and “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring?” from their current album “23 Red”.
During their set, they also did a brand-new song that they announce will be done for an upcoming segment of their “Toilet Tunes” Internet video series, entitled “Call Me Crazy”, as well as a cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Can’t Let Go”, which would seem right at home with another AR web project entitled “Run For Cover”. And as the lightning from a distant thunderstorm was flashing well to their east, AR delivered the coolest moment of their set toward the end when, during one of their songs, Nini and the Hendos each worked in a line from a classic hit. Kristin with “One of Us”, then Cathy with “All You Need is Love”, and Nini with, interestingly, “Rapper’s Delight”.
Kristin Henderson, Bass Player for Antigone Rising
Given what Antigone Rising are about, they delivered fantastically, and had fun doing it. Despite the lightning from that distant thunderstorm, at least the heavy weather stayed away.
I must givethe folks at Folkfest St. Pete credit for outdoing themselves this year by booking such talented acts as the two I just reviewed, and I hope they improve on that in the years to come. You can find out more about that event at www.folkfeststpete.org. Creative Clay, the organization that benefits from the event, is taking donations at www.creativeclay.org
To find out more about Jayne Kelli, visit www.jaynekellimusic.com or www.swearingenandkelli.com. You can like her on Facebook by searching “Jayne Kelli Music” or “Swearingen and Kelli”, as well as follow her on Twitter @jaynekellimusic
Antigone Rising are online at www.antigonerising.com, as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/antigonerising and on Twitter @antigonerising. Their current album “Red 23” is available on AR’s website as well as iTunes and Amazon. And you can enjoy AR’s “Toilet Tunes”, “Run For Cover” and other videos from them at www.youtube.com/user/antigonerising1
Photo Credits: Steve Byrd