Title: “I Love Being Here”
Label: Like A Bird Productions
Performance: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: ARA Gallery & Interiors, 4850 Armar Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids
Tickets: $25 through (319) 366-2520
Hometown chanteuse Lynne Rothrock shows her softer side with an ode to love of people and places. She saves her sass until near the end on “Bigger is Better.”
I’ve only seen her sass, so this was a wonderful glimpse into another facet of this gem of a singer whose journey has taken her from Cedar Rapids to Nashville, Tenn., and cruise ships and back.
Her husband, Iowa Blues Hall of Fame guitarist Ron DeWitte, gets the opening licks on “New York State of Mind” before Rothrock’s smokey vocals embrace the lyrics.
Every song drips with elegance, and dare I say her interpretation of “Shiver Me Timbers” is even better than Bette Midler’s.
The lineup also shows impeccable pacing, with the tempos kicking into a higher gear on the swingy “Hallelujah, I Love Him So,” the title track and the bluesy fun of “Jesus & Tomatoes.”
Best track: “Agua” not only lets her caress the moment but layers it over a lush piano line.
Charlie Hunter Duo
Title: “Baboon Strength”
Label: Spire Artist Media
Performance: All ages show 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Picador, 330 E. Washington St., Iowa City
Tickets: $15 through (319) 354-4788 or www.thepicador.com
Charlie Hunter and friends pull you into their WABAC (Wayback) Machine, set for an earlier, trippier time when rockers were experimenting with electronica via Moog synthesizers and organs. Remember “Popcorn,” that catchy, kitschy Hot Butter hit?
Everything old is new again with Hunter’s deft hand on guitar, Tony Mason on drums and Erik Deutsch on keyboards.
Even the titles hearken back, as is “A Song for Karen Carpenter” and “Astronaut Love Triangle.” I expected “Karen Carpenter” to be laden with percussion, but the drums are barely there until halfway through the song. Still, it’s a quiet, laid-back 6 minutes of easy listening, followed by the ’60s swinging club rocker “Baboon Strength” that would make Austin Powers proud. Groovy, baby.
Best track: “Astronaut Love Triangle” is out of this world with its eerie electronics that blast into funk before slowing down for re-entry.
Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill
Title: “Welcome Here Again”
Label: Compass Records Group
Performance: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Where: CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids
Tickets: $19 in advance at (319) 364-1580 or $22 day of show
From the opening light lilt of Irish fiddle dancing over even lighter guitar, you know you’re in for something special from Martin Hayes of County Clare, Ireland, and Dennis Cahill of Chicago.
East meets West in a fine mesh of traditional tunes sporting personal spins on the duo’s latest CD, “Welcome Here Again.”
This mix of jigs and reels not only showcases fine musicianship but keeps the Olde Country flame a burnin’.
Tempo unwinds and the mood turns more somber with the slow airs. Especially lovely is “The Wind Swept Hill of Tulla,” with its melancholy simplicity.
Best track: “Mulqueen’s” reel will kick up your heels even if you’re sitting down.
– Diana Nollen, The Gazette