The onliest thing I hate worser than when an act goes on late is not getting there on time and having to walk in the door late, my own self. The most annoying part of tonight is that I left out the house in plenty of time. Then, at McBurger Thing, got stuck in line behind some indecisive woman and her unruly brood as she called out literally every single choice each one was allowed to select from the menu.
Once I do make it to the counter, get my food and go wolf it down, I make it back through the door just in time to watch the bus’s rear lights recede down the road. I profoundly wish all kinds of hateful stuff on that woman and every last one of her kids. The next one comes along and deposits me where it’s a straight shot down Lake St. to a stop right in front of the Bryant-Lake Bowl. Except the connecting bus doesn’t connect: above the driver’s head, the little electronic billboard reads Drop-Off Only. Wishing some more hateful stuff on MTC and the driver, just turning the air blue in general, there’s maybe a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll make it in time. Nope, not even that. By the time another bus finally shows up and actually stops, I arrive ten minutes into Vicky Emerson’s set.
Emerson is at the tail end of “Washington Street,” a reflective number she’s singing solo while playing acoustic guitar. I don’t know how many songs I’ve missed but sure wished I’d caught the beginning of this one. She is in, as the saying goes, fine voice. Just like on record (her newest is Long Ride), Vicky Emerson handles a melody with spirited, homespun grace, resonating warmth. Backup outfit the All Man Band join her and everything leaps a notch from gentle intimacy to having an energized, up-close-and-personal good time. Emerson’s richly emotive pipes ring out comfortably against the solid backdrop of guitar, acoustic bass, keys and drums. It’s sweet, heartfelt country music, from one song to the next an evening of first-rate fare.
The lady is a top-notch writer and the boys in the band all know exactly how to supply straight-ahead drive accentuated by tasty nuance. The worst thing is that each performance is air-tight, so enjoyable you get wrapped up and lose such track of time that each song seems to be over before it’s barely even begun. Before I know it, something like 45 minutes to an hour have gone by and it has been, hands down, one of my more rewarding nights ever reviewing music—despite the fact that the encore, a cover of the old Otis Blackwell classic “Fever,” doesn’t work, coming off as a haphazard afterthought.
This is Vicky Emerson’s second time through the Twin Cities in recent months. For her next appearance, check vickyemerson.com. Meanwhile, her latest album is Long Ride, a fine recording that does Emerson admirable justice.