A sparkling Jewell brightens the crepuscular gloom of the East Brunswick Club
The Eilen Jewell Band's first tour of Australia has by all accounts been a resounding success and no wonder; the show at the East Brunswick Club demonstrated just how engaging Eilen Jewell can be.
The diminutive blonde hails originally from Boise Idaho and has been playing music with her excellent band for over four years and has released three CDs, the most recent being Sea Of Tears (2009), a fabulous musical feast that encompasses old time rock n roll, swing and country blues, enhanced by Eilen Jewell's distinctive and attractive voice and the wonderful guitar licks of Jerry Miller.
The sold out show at East Brunswick Club was the second last for her tour and she gave generously of her time with a sparkling set that lasted for well over two hours.
We were literally stuck like glue, held spellbound from the first song of Eilen Jewell's set. Stuck like glue because the carpet was so sticky it adhered to the shoes like Velcro. Now I know where Patrick Donovan got the title for his regular column in the The Age's Entertainment Guide...
But that is beside the point and even a sticky carpet couldn't detract from the gem of a show presented by the totally delightful Eilen Jewell Band.
As well as Loretta Lynne, Eilen expressed her appreciation for past female artists Bessie Smith and Billy Holliday, performing covers of their work, in Billy Holliday's case she sang a splendid version of Fine And Mellow and ended her main set with a medley of Bessie Smith songs called collectively If You Catch Me Stealing. Her guitar is embellished with signatures by female artists Loretta Lynne, Lucinda Williams and Mavis Staples.
Other covers included the Eric Anderson composition Dusty Box Car Wall, I'm Gonna Dress In Black credited to Van Morrison and the Charlie Rich song Thanks A Lot.
Eilen Jewell's own compositions blend beautifully with the covers. Codeine Arms, which Eilen claims is the saddest song she has written is a personal favourite of mine on her Sea Of Tears CD, and reminds me of a similar drug addict song, My Morphine by Gillian Welch. Both songs are sung in a slow, dreamy style, though expressed quite differently by each artist.
Mention must also be made of the band. Eilen remarked at the outset, that she wasn't bothered by the audience applauding Jerry Miller's guitar solos, which they did intermittently through the show. Miller's guitar style, played on an old Gretsch electric guitar, has a wonderful old time rock n roll sensibility and is ornate and beautiful.
Percussionist, Jason Beek, Eilen's partner in life and also in a side project called Sacred Shakers - a group who sing and record old time gospel - shared singing credits on a song from their Sacred Shakers recording - a gospel number written by George Jones, Tagging Along With Jesus.
Bass player John Sciacia complemented the quartet with his skill on that instrument and appeared to be enjoying himself enormously.
After nineteen songs, drawn from all three of her recordings, plus a few new covers, Eilen called it a night, though was drawn back for a two song encore of a Shirelle's cover Putty In Your Hands and the aforementioned Codeine Arms.
Eilen Jewell is to be commended for her patience with the chattering class at the back of the band room, and though her witty exhortations to them to shake their bodies when singing the much requested, Shakin' All Over may have shamed them to silence, it was only for short while. It makes you wonder why they bother to hand out money for a show they are not enough interested in to pay attention. It is also very disrespectful to the artist.
Wrenching my feet from the carpet to leave, I felt that the evening's entertainment was one of the best I have ever witnessed and well worth the pain of standing for four and half hours. An Eilen Jewell concert has a magic that makes you forget your discomfort, and surrender with pleasure to the leading lady's seductive charms.
Eilen herself didn't appear to be bothered by the venue, as she whimsically averred that she'd offer Lance, the sound technician a job, being impressed with his handling of the sound board. Certainly the sound was perfect even if the East Brunswick Club has its drawbacks in other areas.
Let's hope it will not be too long before she visits Melbourne again. I for one will be lining up for tickets and would even go to the East Brunswick Club again to see her.
Review and photos by Anne Sydenham