Photo by DJ Kantner
“It’s a miracle to be outnumbered by your own audience,” said Rachel Ries of Her Crooked Heart as she played to a packed house last Thursday during Ashland Folk Collective’s intimate show. Normally a quartet, Her Crooked Heart only had three voices that night as their fourth member had had some scheduling issues. Despite having one less voice, the group created a show that overflowed with organic harmonies, gentle rhythms, and joyous laughter.
The show was opened by Kelvin Underwood, under the name Space Challenger, who set the tone for the evening. With just an electric guitar, Underwood bathed the room in his smooth, melodic voice and blues inspired riffs. Jacqui Aubert of Ashland Folk Collective, explained that Underwood had, “reached out to me a while back and invited me to a live show. I thought his performance was intimate and vulnerable and it was hard for the audience not to love him.” The atmosphere was similar to a living room show, with audience asking Underwood questions in between songs and creating a sense of casual ease between performer and listeners.
When the last echoes of Space Challenger’s guitar dissipated in the small room the intermission was filled with applause and cheers followed by mingling, sweet conversation and mint tea and brownies. Owing to Ashland’s size, this show had the feeling of hanging out at an old friend’s house with the opportunity to reconnect with people one hadn’t seen in years. Her Crooked Heart took to the stage after the short intermission and heightened the sense of community the room was already vibrating with. Originally touring under her own name, Rachel Ries has the vocal power of Florence and the Machine while also the tender approachability of groups like Big Thief. Accompanied by two other musicians, both multi-instrumentalists, the three of them sang vulnerable stories about Ries’s Mennonite childhood and somewhat recent divorce. With the addition of a drum machine, the group had the ability to add an extra layer of sound to their music. Ries introduced one song by playing a recording of cicadas and saying, “Welcome to my mom and dad’s driveway in August.”
The audience was immediately taken in by the group’s chemistry and obvious love for one another. A love that they shared with the audience throughout the show and brought a heartwarming peak with a sing-along tune at the end of the set. The performance was closed with a standing ovation and the audience left with warm hearts and full smiles.
The Ashland Folk Collective has an amazing season this year and will continue to announce more shows as the days go by. Make sure you subscribe to their mailing list and find them on social media to keep yourself updated.