March 25, 2015
It would be wise to spend this Friday night at one of the swankiest venues in Charlotte, Petra’s Piano Bar. Nestled between Common Market and local grub hub The Diamond, Petra’s may seem like unexplored territory, or better yet, an oasis for many of the area’s local clientele. In recent months, the stylish piano bar’s community involvement has increased tenfold. It has become home to an open mic night on the first and third Tuesday of the month, and it hosts a new Wednesday evening addition called Midweek Matinee, during which solo/duo artists play early into the night, leaving audience members the option to stay for karaoke afterwards (or check out Snug Harbor’s residency which doesn’t start until 10pm.) Petra’s is an alluring and all-inclusive bar with a friendly staff who keeps everyone comfortable and entertained. The venue’s listening room has an expansive open layout, an impressive grand piano and luxurious velvet curtains among darkened bar tables that flicker in soft candlelight. What better venue to see three of the most sophisticated and well-regarded bands (Sinners & Saints, Bo White y su Orquesta and Sam the Lion) that Charlotte has to offer?
Sinners & Saints are local favorites not just because singer, guitarist and foot-drummer Perry Fowler and stand-up bassist Mark Baran are two of the friendliest faces one could ever hope to meet, but because they play with earnest smiles on their faces every time they perform. The duo has toured all around the Southeast while managing to effortlessly keep their roots strong and nurtured in the Charlotte music scene. Their music can speak for itself, as anyone who has heard their infectiously rowdy tunes can attest. Their songs strike chords the way whiskey fires into your belly. Sinners & Saints are a freight train barreling out blue-collar tenements; like hating your monotonous day job, the simple, indescribable pleasure of a cold beer on a hot day, and of finding the woman of your dreams and holding her tight.
Bo White y su Orquesta is the live band version of White’s own music. It is guitar-less, offering instead a vivid brass section of saxophones played by Tyler Baum, Andy Thewlis and Brent Bagwell. Without the slew of string instruments to get tangled up in, the drum beats are fluid and primal against the shaking percussion manned by Zach Reader and Davey Blackburn, respectively. Bo White’s steady, deep and honest bass tones stand out against his timeless and immediately endearing Paul Simon-esque vocals. Their music tends to mirror captured moments in time, understated and earnest.
Sam the Lion formed brilliantly out of the ashes with members from Sea of Cortez after the sudden and heartbreaking passing of local musician Rodney Lanier in 2011. The quartet is a force of beautiful longing and grace, each song a transcendent passageway into an otherworldly and emotional plane. Vocalist Lindsey Horne sweetly serenades over moody, brooding bassist Chris Lonon and guitarist David Driscoll as each movement of the song sways into the listener’s own dreams. The intense and meditative state never slows or lulls because drummer Chris Walldorf acts in accordance with Charon the ferryman from Greek mythology, carrying listeners plaintively down an ethereal river.
Sinners & Saints, Bo White y su Orquesta and Sam the Lion appear at Petra’s Piano Bar on Friday, March 27. Tickets are $5, doors open at 9 PM and the show starts at 10 PM.