Mobjack Hartford Courant Writeup

Local Bands Give Greater Hartford Scene a Boost With Canton Concert

Mobjack, Sunspots and String Theorie performed as part of a showcase at Bridge Street Live

Eric R. Danton

SOUNDCHECK: Music News & Views

1:39 AM EDT, May 13, 2011

New Haven has traditionally had the strongest local rock scene in Connecticut, but evidence that Hartford is on the rise came Thursday night when capital-area bands Mobjack, Sunspots and String Theorie set up at Bridge Street Live in the Collinsville section of Canton.

Headliner Mobjack played a set of grainy alt-country songs adorned with fiddle and pedal steel guitar. The band, fronted by Windsor resident Keller Glass, got off to a tentative start, but seemed to gain in confidence after a nervy cover of “16 Days” by the ’90s alt-country band Whiskeytown.

Whiskeytown’s plaintive Americana was a clear touchstone, though Glass sang tunefully in flat Midwestern tones familiar to fans of the singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston.

Mobjack performed a mix of songs from the band’s first album, last year’s “Clean Slate,” and a new album the group hopes to release in August. The band ended the show on a particularly strong note with the one-two combination of “Northern Town,” a lilting tune with gleaming interplay between fiddle and steel guitar, and “Stammer,” a dusty, sunny song with a sturdy backbeat and sweet high harmonies on the chorus from bassist Robert Ashley.

Sunspots, the middle band on the bill, played a set of rootsy rock songs with soulful pop hooks. Singer and keyboard player Kevin Scott has a clear, clean voice, and he gave a strong performance on opener “Wrecking Ball,” an uptempo rocker. Scott sang with earnest feeling on “Rainy Days” and harmonized with guitarist Matt Sargent over a swift, steady drum pattern on “New Century.” The group plans to release its debut in July.

Instrumental trio String Theorie opened the show with a set of eclectic world-music songs that drew on a wealth of musical sounds and styles. The group (which played a Courant-sponsored event last fall) plays textured songs that are highly rhythmic.

Guitarist Joel Weik plucked out fast, complicated patterns on acoustic guitar and sometimes slapped at the strings, while Karl Messerschmidt underpinned Weik’s parts with vibrant, sometimes busy parts on bass. Percussionist Jordan Critchley rounded out String Theorie’s songs with an unusual assortment of hand drums, including a djembe and a pair of gourd-shaped udo, Nigerian drums that produced a resonant, watery sound when struck. The band’s set included songs from a self-titled EP released last year.

Copyright © 2011, The Hartford Courant

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