Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lisa Ferraro and Erika Luckett: Sonic Nourishment Comes to Sugarhouse

"If you're not in awe, you're not paying attention."
--Lisa Ferraro and Erika Luckett

Friday evening left me defenseless in a battle with spinach soup. The soup won … my clothes and kitchen were covered in green, and I didn't even have time to eat before I raced out the door. My destination: the Magpie House Concert in mid-Sugarhouse for the Gratitude and Awe Tour featuring Erika Luckett and Lisa Ferrero.     

Erika and Lisa have performed for much larger crowds ... recently they opened for Kenny Loggins in Jacksonville, Oregon's Britt Festival.  But on Friday night, they performed for a group of about 60, including several Utah-based musicians.  We were sipping on beverages and devouring an abundant array of appetizers and desserts when the first set opened with "Sacred Ground," a ponderous exploration of faith and trust on our journey through life:

It’s all about faith, 
it’s all about trust,
it’s all about believing 
that there’s more there for all of us
and how we love,
how we love…

The duo's deep and soulful harmonies that followed were interwoven with winding rhythms.  Early in the program, Lisa's exquisite rendition of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," could have been mistaken for the version by Roberta Flack.   Musically speaking, the evening was a roller coaster of Latin, Blues, Funk, Jazz, New Age, and even a meditative version of "California Dreamin'."  Oh and then echos of the ancient came into play with songs inspired by the poetry of 13th century poet Rumi from their “On the Way of Love” album.  The duo mixed Etta James' "At Last" and a Venezuelan relationship break up song, something about grinding coffee, which is perhaps the rough equivalent of throwing wine glass or plates.
 Songs were sandwiched between discussions of the duo's songwriting process and the songs themselves.  I'll confess I'm not always up for performer chit chat at a concert because I'm there to hear the music.  However, a couple of their stories were genuinely funny and they had an amazing vocabulary between them.

Erika and Lisa began collaborating a few years ago.  Effervescent Lisa, who claps, taps, and moves to her music, has a powerful voice and charming stage presence.  Her rich jazz and songwriting background includes links to Marvin Hamlisch, Hendrick Merkins, Roger Humphries, and internationally recognized arranger Mike Tomaro.  Erika brings her complex guitar fingerings, taps, and touches to the duo's repertoire, not to mention her world music background.  Born in Mexico and raised in Venezuela and Brazil, she was inspired by the confluence of Latin culture and rhythms.

The cornerstone song of the tour and the concert, "Kindness," came during the second set.  The voluminous, series of "oooooooooooooohhhh" intro notes took my breath away.  The jazzy beat gave way to every powerful word ... take a listen to the video above if you haven't already.  Besides repeating the ageless messages of gratitude and kindness, one song doubled as a short science lesson:

7.5 billion cells functioning on our behalf
The miraculous privilege we have of playing this human game.

My favorite song played last before the encore: “Si Volvera,” a Latin, mambo-ish tune with lyrics I scarcely recognized (maybe because there were no words involving food or shopping?).  The world music flavor was, as Erika, who rolls her r's like a native, said: “rambunctious and bombastic.”  The last encore was a crowd sing along to “Evangelina.” It all added up to an evening of “Sonic Nourishment,” … Erika and Lisa wouldn't have it any other way.

Disclosure: Admission price for this event was $15 donation. I received NO compensation for this review.

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