LIVE: John Doe & Jill Sobule @ Club Helsinki Hudson, 3/28/11
It wasn’t, as some in the large Monday night crowd expected, a double-bill.
Rather, it was John Doe and Jill Sobule performing as a duo, and while in theory, it sounds like a pretty odd combination of musical styles, it worked out just perfectly onstage.
They’ve just released a new collaborative album, “A Day at the Pass,” recorded with a killer band led by Don Was, but songs like Sobule’s “Baby Doe” (no relation) and Doe’s “Walking Out the Door” sounded mighty fine with just the two of them picking and strumming and singing.
They alternated lead vocals and switched instruments after almost every song – six-string banjo, acoustic guitars, electric guitars and, of course, Sobule’s Vagabond Travel Guitar, a product of Castleton luthier Kevin Smith. In fact, she raved proudly about the new Jill Sobule model Vagabond.
Along the way, they also dug into their respective back catalogs. Doe offered a churning version of X’s “White Girl” and the barnyard breakdown of the Knitters’ “Call of the Wrecking Ball.” Sobule nailed the yearning “Jet Pack.” “One of the most romantic songs ever written,” Doe declared. “It’s right up there with Joni Mitchell.” He was right, but then her heartbreaking take on “Mexican Wrestler” was even better.
It was a casual Monday night crowd, and the musicians were in a relaxed, sometimes goofy mood, which often came out during their song introductions:
Intro to “Golden State”: “I wrote this when I was going out with Ruth Buzzi, but she left me for Patrick Ewing.”
Intro to “When My Ship Comes In”: “I couldn’t even get a date with Anthony Quinn.”
Intro to “I Kissed a Girl” in reference to Katy Perry’s recent hit with the same title: “The best thing that happened was that a lot 14-year-old girls downloaded my song accidentally.”
Good times. Great music. A perfect way to start the week…
JOHN DOE/JILL SOBULE SET LIST
The Losin’ Kind
Under the Bridge
White Girl (X)
A Good Life
Where Is Bobbie Gentry?
Nothing to Prove
Love Is Never Equal
The New World (X)
When My Ship Comes In
Delta Dawn (aborted)
Silver Wings (Merle Haggard)
I Kissed a Girl
Call of the Wrecking Ball (the Knitters)