A Whirlwind December: Moya Brennan, Loreena McKennitt, Stephen Bennett, BT

December has been a frantic month at Echoes. In addition to all the seasonal shows we produce: Sonic Seasonings, An Echoes Christmas, An Echoes Winter Solstice, Best of Echoes 2006 Listener Poll, Essential Echoes 2006. In the midst of all that, we’ve had a run of live performances and spontaneously picked up two of the four Sonic Seasoning performances we’ll need for 2007.
It started on December 1 with a live performance by Paul Schwartz and State of Grace. State of Grace III
While SOG’s albums are elaborately produced affairs with orchestras and synthesizers, Schwartz stripped it all down to a septet: piano, guitar, bass, cello, violin, drums and of course, the immaculate voice of Lisbeth Scott. Their performance maintained the gothic majesty of the songs, but in a powerful, intimate way.

The next Monday, harp guitarist Stephen Bennett dropped into the Echoes Living Room. We’ve been trying to get him on the air for years and we finally connected. He played a wonderful concert drawing on materiel from his new Reflections CD. But in the process of talking about repertoire, he said, “You want any Christmas tunes?” We didn’t just get a few tunes. In addition to his conventional performance, we got one quarter of next years Sonic Seasonings 2007.
This past week has been especially busy. Florida-based guitarist Dominic Gaudious came in. He’s not well known yet, but we’ve been playing him for a few years. He turned out to be a charming, self-effacing slacker with some compelling approaches to amplified acoustic guitar. Two days later, Loreena McKennitt was on the line, talking about her new album, and December Echoes CD of the Month, An Ancient Muse.
An Ancient Muse
The next day, Irish siren Moya Brennan invited us into her New York hotel room where she and harpist Cormac De Barra laid down Christmas carols with an Irish lilt. I must admit that Moya’s An Irish Christmas left me a little cold. Over-layered and sentimental, the carols were smothered in production. An Irish Christmas
But I knew that if she performed these pieces with her voice untrammeled, you’d realize what a beautifully pure singer Moya is, and how tapped in to the emotions of these carols she gets. We’re saving that for Sonic Seasonings 2007, but you’ll get a taste of it on Wednesday, December 20 when we play three songs from that performance.
And it’s not over yet. This week we hope to get BT into the Echoes Living Room playing live. He’ll be playing music from his album, This Binary Universe.
This Binary Universe
BT will create a sound that’s sure to take us out of the holiday season and send us screaming into the new year.

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