LIVE (Stream): Hayley Reardon @ Caffe Lena, 01/15/2021

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It is not news to report that live music has been in short order lately. So many of us live and breathe for live music. The number of in-person shows has dropped to almost zero. One of the rare, shining examples of innovation in live music is the historic Caffe Lena. Since the shutdown, the folks at Caffe Lena have presented over 150 live stream events. The production value and presentation are world-class. Reese and Joe, the only people in the room beside the artist, run pristine sound and a multi-camera live stream.

On Friday night I took the familiar drive to take photos of Friday night’s performer, Hayley Reardon. It was so eerie to enter this empty, sacred place, where so many artists have graced the stage. I am so used to seeing tables full of fans, anxiously awaiting the artist to take the stage. The tables, still there, sat empty.

At 8 pm sharp, Reardon took the stage. It was her return to the Caffe Lena stage and her first time on stage since March 2020. She has been doing her own live streams from home during the shutdown. She opened her set with “Everything Else,” one of her older, more well-known songs. Reardon’s fingerstyle guitar work is impeccable. At times it almost sounds like two guitarists playing at once. Her powerful voice has a unique timbre, evoking thoughts of Patty Griffin and Ingrid Michaelson.

Her set was heavy on new songs. She used this room and this opportunity to try out the new material. “After You” from her upcoming EP release, was a beautifully poignant tale of love lost. With lines like “I’m grieving a hundred little lives for every season” and “My love, it’s gonna be a while until I know who I am again after you” this song hit home.

Reardon draws from her life and puts it into her songs, but the themes still feel universal. She wrote the song “200 Years Old” about her grandmother who struggled with dementia, and how the music of Patsy Cline would bring her grandmother back, however briefly.

On “Bleed Together” Hayley touched on what it’s like to be a performer in the age of Covid. The line “I don’t need to fill a stadium, just a single chair. Although she was playing to a near-empty room, she sang as if it was standing room only.

An updated take on “America the Beautiful” was timely and respectful of the original. Touching on issues of immigration, Black Lives Matter, and poverty, Reardon still found a way to make our Nation sound great. I felt hope when she sang the classic line “crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

It is wonderful that venues like Caffe Lena are going out of their way to keep the arts alive. We need to do everything we can to support places like these, whether it be by donating to the virtual tip jar during the live streams or buying venue merchandise.

Almost every night of the week there is something going on at Caffe Lena’s website and YouTube channel, including some replays of older shows. I encourage everyone to check it out. Caffe Lena is doing their part, we need to do our part to save the stages that we love.

Here is a link to the replay of the live stream…

Photo Gallery by Claude Sawyer

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