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Kevin Morby, Cassandra Jenkins perform emotional sets at Buskirk-Chumley Theater

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New York folk musician Cassandra Jenkins and indie Americana musician Kevin Morby performed emotional and electric sets Oct. 12 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater for Amethyst House’s ninth annual fundraising concert.

Amethyst House, an addiction treatment center in Bloomington, provides residential and outpatient resources and services to people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction.  

Guitarist Cyrus Gengras accompanied Jenkins to open the show. A voice recording played of someone who had called Jenkins, informing her that they were detained in a county jail, before she started her first song, “American Spirits.” 

“I want to sing a song that is a little hard to sing for a bar crowd,” Jenkins said. 

She has developed an attachment to Norway and has written many of her songs while living there. She dedicated the song to anybody that the crowd had lost or was missing and invited them to the empty chairs in the room. 

Related: [Local music scene: Oct. 13-Oct. 19]

“I just want to create space for those people tonight,” she said before singing “Ambiguous Norway.” 

After her devotional song, Jenkins picked up her guitar and devoted the next song to the people who brighten other’s days, a love song named “Hailey.” 

Before her last song, “Hard Drive” Jenkins said, when she gets nervous at her shows, she often tells bad jokes, but she told the crowd she felt sincere and welcome in this theater.  

A voice recording then played of a person saying once people lose their connection with nature, they lose their connection to their spirit and sense of self. Jenkins and Gengras launched into their final performance. 

“Her last song specifically felt like a warm hug around my brain,” said Grace Miller, audience member and IU Ph.D. student. 

Morby, donning a golden jacket with fringe, followed six band mates onto the stage. Their set began with “This Is a Photograph” — a song about “a window to the past,” according to the lyrics — detailing photographs of Morby’s parents.  

The band had vibrant movements during the upbeat performance. Cochemea contributed with a flute, saxophone and tambourine. Backup vocalist Elizabeth Moen also played guitar and tambourine. Cyrus Gengras played guitar and Stephen Patterson played drums.

During their performance of “A Random Act of Kindness,” keyboardist Dave Sherman played organ sounds from his keyboard. Morby sang loudly with his deep voice, bouncing to the beat across the stage with long curls sweeping across his face.  

Related: [Q&A with ‘The Lucky Star’ director Alain Gauthier]

A couple songs later, during “Five Easy Pieces,” Morby put his guitar down and sat on a speaker. Cochemea played harmoniously on the flute underneath Morby’s voice, singing “All of my time has been wasted on you, baby / Best years of my life I spent dying next to you / Wish I could pretend I wouldn't do it all again / 'Cause I would if I could, if you asked me to.” 

Near the end of the emotional piece, Morby was yelling into the mic and walking around the stage before throwing the mic into the air. He caught it and then found his seat back on the speaker. Morby also walked around the stage before plucking roses off of his mic stand and throwing them to audience members. 

Morby dedicated the funkiest song of the night, “City Music,” to Bloomington. Patterson’s beats were slow, but the upbeat keyboard kept the song going. Cochemea joined in on his saxophone for the second half of the song.  

The funky dance rhythm led parts of the crowd to rise from their seats and dance together.  

Morby then played “Goodbye to Good Times.” The heartfelt soft and slow song was reminiscent of good memories. Morby sang, “No, they just don't make 'em like that no more.” 

The band was called back to the stage by the persistent audience to play their encore song, “Beautiful Strangers.” Before beginning the song, Morby conversed with a young boy in the audience and dedicated the song to him, his “little friend.”  

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