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Tara Nevins (with Carol Elizabeth Jones)

North Shore Point House Concert

Norfolk, VA

June 11, 2011

Review by Paul Roberge of the Herd

After a restful few days at the beach, Mags and I decided to extend our vacation by a day and make the trek to Norfolk to catch the house concert with Tara Nevins.  Mapquest fixed the driving distance from Holden Beach, NC (south of Wilmington) to Norfolk at 318 miles, but the actual distance turned out to be more like 352 miles, and we got caught in a long stretch of stop-and-roll traffic, thanks to construction.  Happily, the drive time from Norfolk to Durham is under four hours, and so the trip home tomorrow shouldn’t be so bad.

The concert was held in the back yard of a private home in a very cool, older neighborhood in the northern part of the city, in the general vicinity of the navy base.  There was a small stage — a riser, actually — with a tent, off to the side that could be placed over it in case of rain.  Folding chairs were set up for about 120 people, and it looked like all but a few were taken.  Some people spread blankets to the sides of the seated area and had picnics.  The host, Jim Morrison, also provided beer and water for his guests, though many people brought their own.  There were a number of Donna the Buffalo fans in attendance, though the overwhelming majority seemed to be local music aficionados who enjoy the house concert scene and who are interested in hearing new sounds.  Unfortunately, a storm front rolled in just before the show got under way.  The cool breeze was a relief, but menacing skies provided a backdrop against which the the first half of the show was performed.  Finally, some sprinkles, placement of the tent over the performers, then more serious raindrops, then the downpour.  Some people sought shelter in the garage, others in the house; still others called it a night.  Jim brought out plastic bags for the instruments and moved the show into his home.  Tara and Carol Elizabeth set up in his spacious living room and performed without amplification.  People sat on the floor and stood, spilling out into the dining room.  Somehow, this worked just fine.

This turned out to be a very special evening indeed, both for the intimacy of a house concert and for the opportunity to see Tara perform in her own right.  Musically, the concert was a melange of old time, material from Tara’s recent release, Wood and Stone, and some Donna the Buffalo favorites. Tara’s musicianship is peerless, and she is also a most engaging raconteuse.  I came away with a new appreciation for and admiration of this remarkable talent and very special person.  A heartfelt thanks to our host, Jim Morrison, for sponsoring this event and for inviting us into his home.  My daughter had it right when she said that this is an evening that we shall always remember fondly.  No question about it.  This was a beautiful experience.

Paul R.

[Also, check out this review of the show by host Jim Morrison and find out more about the evolution of house concerts as well: Magic moments: a decade of house-concerts]

Photo by Maggie Roberge. Reposted here with permission.

Photo by Maggie Roberge. Reposted here with permission.


Tara Nevins, fiddle, guitar, vocals

Carol Elizabeth Jones, guitar, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Chilly Winds,” “The North Country,” and “Half Way to Nowhere”

Set List

Start: 8.15pm

I

Breaking up Christmas

Wood and Stone

What Money Cannot Buy

Chilly Winds

The North Country

Stars Fell on Alabama

Locket and Key

Nothing Really

Sugar Hill

Snowbird

You’re still Driving that Truck (interrupted by thunder storm; show stopped at 9.18pm)

II (show restarted indoors at 9.40pm)

Lee Highway Blues

You’re still Driving that Truck

No Place like the Right Time

Polecat Blues

All I ever Needed

You’ve Got it All

Half Way to Nowhere

Cotton Eye Joe

Family Picture

Train 45

John Henry

Finish: 10.43pm

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Photo by John D Kurc

Tara Nevins
North Shore Point House Concerts 10 year Anniversary Show
Saturday, June 11th, 2011

8pm
The donation to the artist is $20.

Norfolk, Virginia

Anyone interested in attending should email jim@northshorepoint.com or visit www.northshorepoint.com

American roots traditionalist Tara Nevins recently released Wood and Stone, her first solo album since Mule to Ride in 1999. Wood and Stone showcases her ever-evolving repertoire as she journeys both back to her own “roots” and head-long into new territory. In support of the new album, Nevins will be performing at the ten year anniversary show for North Shore Point House Concerts on Saturday, June 11th at 8pm in Norfolk, VA.  Anyone interested in attending should email jim@northshorepoint.com or visit www.northshorepoint.com

North Shore Point’s first show in 2001 was with Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer (the second was with Steve Forbert). They’ve hosted well more than 60 shows over the years with folks like Jim Lauderdale, Eliza Gilkyson, Marshall Crenshaw, Jimmy LaFave, Kim Richey, Steve Forbert, Tom Russell, Dave Alvin, Chris Smither, Peter Case, Mary Gauthier, and dozens of others. It’s generally considered one of the more successful series in the country so come out and celebrate!

Fans of Nevins from her 21-year tenure with Donna the Buffalo are familiar with her versatile talents; she shares the vocal and songwriting responsibilities for the band and is a stellar musician on fiddle, guitar, and accordion. (She plays a mean scrubboard too.) Prior to DTB, Nevins was a founding member of the all-female, old time/Cajun band The Heartbeats. (They join her on two tracks here as well.) Wood and Stone delivers the musical expertise fans have come to expect and surprises with new perspectives.

“This album is personal and sort of revelatory,” Nevins says. “It’s an expression of recent emotional discovery within relationships lost and found, and how knowing the core of who we are is the real deal. There were so many elements I wanted to explore—to combine all the pieces of my personal musical puzzle–and then have it come together in a cohesive whole. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Larry Campbell. I am honored to have had him both produce and play on my record. He’s an amazingly talented and soulful musician. He has a very natural, down-to-earth approach and an instinctual insightfulness that I really appreciate; he really got what I was after. The whole experience was inspiring and challenging in a very positive way.”

Campbell is a much-sought-after musician/producer renowned for his work with Bob Dylan and still rolling from the success of Levon Helm’s two Grammy- winners, Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt, which he produced. He found Nevins’s project immediately compelling. “I liked the feel of the project– her combination of old-time mountain music and original songwriting—and I was taken with Tara’s unique talent; she’s got a distinctive voice—there’s a kind of honesty that shines through.”

The record kicks off with the title cut “Wood and Stone,” and that “honest” element is readily apparent in this touching tribute to home and family. Old-timey acoustics are quickly joined by drums and steel guitars as Nevins sings about “the better part of me” regarding her upbringing and early influences. “It’s got that magical blend of music and lyrics,” Campbell says of it, “and it really paints a picture of where she comes from.”

Ten of the thirteen tracks are originals, and Nevins’ complexity gets a broad stage. She dispenses wit and wisdom with an atypical take on love and relationships through gritty songs such as “You’ve Got It All” and “You’re Still Driving That Truck,” then turns to wrenching hearts with songs like “Snowbird” (accompanied by Jim Lauderdale), a beautiful metaphorical ballad about the pain of loving someone unable to truly give back, and “Tennessee River,” a haunting, gripping song about the stranglehold love can have over a person’s whole existence. “Stars Fell on Alabama” sounds like it fell from her heart and pen too, but Nevins has the capacity to take a well-known standard like this, change the melody, and perform it so ingenuously that it fits in seamlessly to the whole groove of the record.

The record is “framed” by another nostalgic piece, “The Beauty of the Days Gone By” (by Van Morrison), bringing the record full-circle and serving as a sort of catharsis for the dark tone of “Tennessee River”. “I wanted to end the record with it,” Nevins explains, “because I love the sentiment of the song and it’s kind of like ‘the sun always comes back out’ kind of thing. We grow and learn and take our relationships with us for better and for worse and that’s life in all its beauty and glory.”

Nevins’ rare blend of enormous talent coupled with genuine down-home humbleness has won the hearts of fans and colleagues alike. “Tara has this worldly awareness combined with a fragile innocence,” Larry Campbell notes, “which makes her songwriting and music very accessible…very appealing.” Wood and Stone is sure to add to that appeal. Visit Nevins’ website at http://taranevins.com to read the song lyrics, see a photo gallery, listen to the songs and more.

North Shore Point House Concerts

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