Caterwaulla, Skye, Liberty Leg and those crazy redheads that make up White Mystery rocked my socks off Friday night. I felt like it was my official kickoff to the very musical month of March. Caterwaulla is the youngest of the acts, but don’t let the newness fool you…they pack a punch. Their lead singer, Lauren Murphie, has a solid set of pipes and just enough shimmy in her step to spice up an already solid arrangement of sounds from the band. I’ve seen them perform a few times now, and I sense that they’re not going anywhere but up in the Iowa City music scene. (On a side note, no band should cover Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit unless they can totally kill it…and Caterwaulla does indeed.)
Skye Carrasco and the Brothers Highnam (hopefully they don’t mind me calling them that) have hit a stride in this collaboration. They give me goosebumps when they play. For those of you that have seen Skye solo, you know that she is a phenomenal singer and violin player. With Cole and Brad there is an added dimension of deep sound that perfectly complements Skye’s voice and string work. Skye has also made the mandolin a staple of her performance, adding to her artillery of sound. If you haven’t seen these folks play before (or lately) put it on your musical to do list.
Liberty Leg has long been a favorite of many locals, and they’ve only compounded their value by adding on vocalist Latisha Knight and keyboardist Brendan Spengler. Front man Ethan Richeson’s voice is as commanding as ever, perfectly leading the way of this charging freight train of sound. Rarely do I hear a band so grungy and so crisp at the same time.
And the icing on this foot-stomping cake was Chicago’s White Mystery. They came through town back in July for the Firecracker 500 Fest at Blue Moose and since then I’ve been hooked. This bluesy garage rock duo has been compared to the White Stripes (‘cept they’re actually brother and sister with the surname White) but I think they offer quite a bit more. For one, (brother) Francis White is an infinitely better drummer than Meg White will ever be (sorry, Meg) and (sister) Alex rips that guitar up in all the best always. Not only are they great to listen to, but they put on a hell of a stage show. Red curls whip everywhere, Alex is a master of the guitar riff back bend and their energy just oozes out into the audience. One caveat – don’t forget your ear plugs. It is Sunday night as I write this and my ears still have a teeny bit of ringing from this wild Friday night show.