The weak light streaming in through my curtains this morning wasn’t inspiring but, nevertheless, I woke up smiling. I was at a wonderful concert last night in Enniskillen’s Ardhowen Theatre and images of it were running through my mind as I awoke.
I’d only heard a couple of Kimmie Rhodes’ songs on the radio before the concert so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But her reputation as songwriter was what drew me to the show. And I wasn’t disappointed that I went. It was even better than I’d anticipated.
Kimmie Rhodes caught the audience’s attention. She sang and chatted so naturally that you got the feeling you were sitting in an informal session in a pub or maybe her kitchen. I could feel the rapport she built. The audience responded as if she were talking directly to each person.
Kimmie’s voice is expressive with a great range. It’s a warm sound that draws you into the song, making it easy to listen to the words. And it was the lyrics that I’d come to hear. I wasn’t disappointed with her as a songwriter either. I loved the images she created and the stories she told. As a historical fiction writer, I was captivated by the story she told about how she got the idea to write a song about the water boys on Tin Pan Alley in New York during the vaudeville era. I love to see artists bring history alive in story or song.
But she also wrote about contemporary life and her optimistic, face the world head on character shines through. Despite the difficulties she has faced recently, as her husband recovers from cancer surgery, she seems positive and focussed. She reminds me of some of the strong, gutsy women I grew up around in Canada. She seems comfortable with who she is and gracefully lets the world see the person within.
Her sons Gabriel and Jeremy shared the stage with her. Gabriel is a versatile guitarist with a calm, confident manner. He moved from honky tonk to rock and everything in between without hesitation. He also played some wonderful slide guitar and made the most of his guitar’s potential as a rhythm instrument. I loved some of the effects – trains in particular – that he created by altering string tuning. I’d have loved to hear him sing a bit more as he has a soft, melodic voice.
Jeremy is a budding songwriter and opened the show. He seems a shy performer. I can understand and sympathise with his nerves as I’ve been doing some public speaking lately. I’m not confident in front of an audience and I know how difficult it is to let your personality shine through in front of strangers. But he quietly persevered, mastering his nerves, and giving the audience a taste of his song writing ability. Despite his reserved manner his music shone through.
I lost track of time during the show and was amazed when I glanced at my watch as I left the auditorium. It was almost 11pm. Toward the end of the show Kimmie joked that we would stay until 3 or 4am – that would have been fine by me!