Indiana Daily Student

Newcomer's show shines

Carrie Newcomer has made a name for herself nationally, garnering critical acclaim and the admiration of award-winning author Barbara Kingsolver.\nBut she will always remain a Hoosier at heart, a fact she played up in asides during her Friday show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave. Her connection with the audience is one of her strongest suits, honed from years of performing at small clubs and other acoustic venues. Newcomer is capable of putting on a great live show, and she did just that. \nBorn in northwestern Indiana, Newcomer's music has a distinctly Midwestern feel. She performs an eclectic blend of coffeehouse folk, veering away from both the down-home twang of the South and the chic angst of the city. Her lyrics shimmer with intelligence, delivered with a jazzy throatiness. \n"In the age of possibility, cheap gas, John Glenn and tube TV/ When Martin walked many miles to stand beside Gandhi," she croons in "When It's Gone It's Gone." "But faith was stoned with cans and rocks/ And the neighbor kid came home in a box/ Now we don't believe so much of everything we hear."\nThe words themselves are poetic, and Newcomer's rich alto infuses them with layers of meaning unseen in the linear notes. An iconoclasticact, she's too smart for mass consumption. And that's a pity. \nThe concert kicked off a promotional tour of her new album The Age of Possibility that will take her from California to Massachusetts. With an low-tempo acoustic feel, the record has a soft-spoken grace to it. \nBut Newcomer was playing for a packed house at the Buskirk and certainly knows how to work a crowd after 15 years in the business. With full accompaniment, she went great guns with a lively hour and a half set. She performed new songs such as "Tornado Alley" and older favorites like the soulful gospel tune "When One Door Opens." \nNewcomer was captivating, hitting all the right notes, though the show's sound production left something to be desired. While her vocals tend more to the self-effacing side, the words often couldn't be made out from the drone of the piano and percussion. Her skillful plucking of the acoustic guitar was similarly given short shrift.\nThe show was taped for an upcoming PBS documentary, which will splice live concert footage with interviews. Newcomer poked fun at the intrusive cameramen, offering to let them sing chorus for the last song.\nOpening solo act Vance Gilbert deserves some credit for the successful show. He left her with an audience whipped into a frenzy. His songs were in the spiritual vein, but he was very playful with their performance. And Gilbert interjected a healthy dose of vibrant humor in all his exchanges with the audience, first encouraging all the men to sing along with one of his songs, then all the women, then "everybody else." Met up with only the sound of his strumming, he explained that "it always works when I do it in Indianapolis"

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