Laura Cantrell with her band at Joe's Pub, NYC.
The lovely Laura Cantrell played a concert at Joe's Pub Sunday evening celebrating the 15th anniversary of her debut album, Not the Tremblin' Kind. (She explained that it's actually been 16 years, as it took her a while to pull the anniversary tour together, which I completely relate to.) That title song was a highlight of the show; its writer, George Usher, appeared as if by magic to sing it as a duet with Laura. He reminded me of Neil Young—a deeper voice but with that compelling Youngian (maybe also Jungian?) energy, an interesting complement to Laura's serene quality, with her voice bringing to mind birds and bells. Other favorites of mine in the set were Laura's own songs "Queen of the Coast," inspired by country backup singer Bonnie Owens, and "Starry Skies," from her latest, excellent record No Way There from Here (though I missed hearing that album's "All the Girls Are Complicated"). Her songs are country but by way of NYC, where she's lived for a long time—she described prowling the downtown music scene in the 90s. Laura and I had been in touch by e-mail through a publishing colleague of mine. It was great to finally meet her and to hear her in person. My friend the fantastic photographer Terry Bisbee, who loved the show, took this shot of us (and a few other pub- or theater-goers!) in the lobby of the Public Theater, which houses Joe's Pub. Laura's tour heads next to her hometown of Nashville.