LIVE: Zan & The Winter Folk at Troy Foundry Theatre, 5/8/2021
The last time I saw Zan & The Winter Folk play live before this past Saturday was at their album release show on June 23rd, 2019 in the garden seating area of Little Pecks and Lucas Confectionery, which was a truly idyllic and dreamy Troy evening. This scene feels far away now: myself and dozens others, crowded closely together, unmasked, enjoying the beginning of a beautiful summer, and blissfully unaware of what was to come just under a year later.
The nearly two years between these shows feel somewhat chaotic and blurred for me personally, but this seemed to be a sentiment shared among some of the other members of Saturday evening’s crowd. Regardless, there we were! A live, in-person show, which for the majority of us was a COVID first. Though we were no longer enclosed in a lush greenhouse-like cafe, the audience was nestled comfortably on an eclectic mix of wooden chairs in the lot next to the Trojan Hotel on 3rd street.
Zan Strumfeld and her band took to the stage, admittedly timid, as their primary platform for sharing music was via livestreaming on Facebook and Instagram since their final ‘before times’ show in February of 2020. Zan remarked that hearing applause was somewhat surprising, but welcomed, after a year of performance feedback in the form of watching floating hearts and a live feed of comments scroll on a small screen. Michael Gregg, banjo, Will Brown, guitar, and Sean Fortune, bass, chimed in offering lively banter and disclosing the band’s way of entertaining themselves during quarantine was with a lot of virtual Dungeons & Dragons.
With that, the show began. The band shared old favorites from albums Your Girl No More and How to Be Alone, as well as new material yet to be released. Zan’s lyrics presented incredibly relatable life experiences, even in the context of pre-COVID. It was hard to deny, as Zan remarked, that these songs took on a whole new meaning after the experience of quarantine. From the shared experience of literally being locked inside our apartments, as described within the verses of spritely “In the Kitchen,” to the tragedy of lost love in “Alone.” We as an audience were finally breaking out of our isolation and getting to experience the rekindling of a community through live music once again.
Zan & The Winter Folk have a magically eclectic repertoire of song styles, folk and jazz, hints of bluegrass and rock. Songs like “Hungry Eyes” and “What You Do” showcased the band’s range and talent. “Running on Empty” offered emotional lyrics and catharsis that one can only feel from the vibrations of a live band and powerful vocals. Though the show began late in the evening, and the weather was unseasonably chilly, no one wanted the night to end. The band powered through frozen fingers for an audience that begged for an encore. We were treated to not just one, but two extra songs.
What really captured the night for me, however, was a line from Zan & The Winter Folk’s newest song, “New Morse Code.” It went, “love is a healing thing, even when life can seem unwound.” Despite the monotony that became daily life during lockdown, there was an undeniable feeling of being out of control. But with love for our city, and our amazing music scene, there is no doubt in my mind that healing has begun, and we are returning to normalcy here in Troy.
A huge thanks to Zan & The Winter Folk for providing such an incredible evening of music, and to Troy Foundry Theatre for hosting this performance series. Coming up shortly, Troy Foundry Theatre will be continuing to host shows and events including an original play, “A Deed Without A Name.”