The Kirkland Art Center in Clinton was recently the scene for Kat Wright‘s return to her upstate roots. The Rochester-born chanteuse and her band performed a soulful, sometimes funky, 22-song set to a sold out audience at this small venue in Central New York.
NPR once described Wright as a mix of Amy Winehouse and Bonnie Raitt. It’s easy to note tones of Susan Tedeschi in her delivery as well. This served Wright well later in the set when she and guitarist, Bob Wagner, teamed for a stirring duet of Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Shelter.”
Wright’s band is one of the tightest around, making due without the presence of keyboardist, Shane Hardiman, who was missing due to health issues. Wright made note of the spaciousness to her right and wished Hardiman well in his recovery.
Wright commands your attention with her presence and her voice. As soon as she opens her mouth, the notes pour out effortlessly. She possesses that rare quality of projecting deep soulful notes with what may seem to the onlooker as pure ease.
Their set opened with an instrumental jam sans Wright, where the band: Bob Wagner (guitar), Josh Weinstein (bass), Colin Jalbert (drums), Jake Whitesell (tenor sax), and Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), displayed their chops right out of the gate.
Wright joined the fellas for a sultry, soulful performance of “All About You” to get things rolling. The standing room only audience was rapt with the voice coming from the stage while the band provided a jazzy backdrop.
Throughout the course of the night, Wright wowed with her voice while the band did the same. There were points during the show where the band seemed like they were ready to let rip but were holding back just a bit, to allow Wright to shine. These moments were sparse and when they let loose; they really let loose.
This is a well-educated outfit, as shown in covers of blues classics from Howlin’ Wolf and Junior Wells and their jaw-dropping version of the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Shelter.” This is a band that wears its influences on their sleeves. If you want funk, they can funk you up with the best of them. If you want soulful ballads, you got it. Blues? Indeed. Kat Wright is one to check out.
The night’s opener was the Utica-based Americana band, The Old Main. Their brand of music is rife with foot-stompers and tender ballads with the ability to flat-out rock. They’re a band on the rise around New York State, but knew their role on this night as the opening act. Humble and funny, they quickly won the audience over with witty, self-deprecating banter between songs and a solid set of original material spanning their two studio albums, as well as a new, as-yet-unnamed song.
The band, consisting of stand-up bassist Nash Robb, guitarist Seth Becker, drummer Mitch Eckler, and banjoist Dusty Elmer, rolled through a solid eight song set, incorporating an enthusiastic jam session that had Eckler using Robb’s bass as an adjunct to his drum kit during “Tuesday.” Robb and Owen offer some of the best harmonizing in Americana today with Eckler providing additional harmonies to add an extra punch. Elmer’s picking is effortless. The Old Main did exactly what they set out to do for this show — provide solid opening band material while winning over new fans.
Kat Wright will be performing at the moe.down Festival in Turin Fourth of July Weekend. The Old Main will be performing at Woods Fest 2 in Westernville on August 10. Both bands are well worth checking out.