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Common Fence Music 2005-2006 schedule

Review of Maria Muldaur concert, September 17, 2005.

Click here to view photos of this concert.


Packed hall greets Maria Muldaur


Common Fence Point Music
Sat., 9-17-2005


A little of New Orleans' weather, music and spirit music blew into Portsmouth's Common Fence Point Community Hall Saturday night as tropical storm-like conditions and Maria Muldaur and her band blew into town.

I waded through puddles and made my way to the Anthony Road hall to find a sold-out show and people clapping on the porch. It became immediately apparent that I should have arrived earlier. Everyone had staked out their spots at the tables and unpacked picnics.
I got out from under the rain and lightning and was greeted by a wave of body heat, the sweet smell of wine, beer and food and Muldaur's rollicking blues. Other than the absence of tobacco smoke, I might have thought I was in the South somewhere - so nice to have the familial feel of B.Y.O.B., home-cooked food, casual seating and organic music. The hall became equal parts blues club, church hall, hoedown and juke joint.

Muldaur was smooth and smoky and delivered a brand of music she described as "Bluesiana." Many references were made to the recent events in New Orleans; Muldaur had been so torn up over New Orleans' suffering, her band had to talk her into performing songs about the Crescent City on this tour. She explained how a resident was uplifted by hearing her perform some in San Francisco and how there wouldn't be much left of her set if she didn't. It proved to her that "the city was under water, but its spirit wasn't." She then cranked up a spicy cover of J.J. Cale's "New Orleans."

She questioned the crowd's enthusiasm at one point as she couldn't hear them, but I posit that they were more mesmerized by the soulful singing and spirited playing than they were sleepy. Her soul sister Del Ray on guitar, described as such because of their mutual fascination for Memphis Minnie and Bessie Smith, was pickin' all over the place and provided the sprinkles of acoustic to complement the stinging electric lead. It seemed the musical purpose of Muldaur's recent work and this performance was to rescue from obscurity the "queens of the blues" for her audience and America.

She finished up her two sets and the night with songs she plays every night, everywhere. She had the crowd yelling "it's not the meat" as she answered with "it's the motion." Finally, she recalled the history of the song everyone knew and wanted to hear. "Midnight at the Oasis" climbed the charts slowly through 1973 and 1974 she explained, eventually going platinum, and it was in Muldaur's words, "very good" to her.
She seemed to enjoy the crowd, especially the venue (a favorite of guitarist Del Ray), and exclaimed that it had "the bitchin'est rice puddin'." I concur. Can I get a witness?

      Maria Muldaur

Smooth and smoky. Maria Muldaur honored the queens of the blues at Common Fence Music's inaugural concert for the 2005-06 season - and also belted out the song everyone wanted to hear. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY JUDY TATE