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 Forum index » Reviews, Editorials and Commentary » Reviews, Reports and Interviews
Groovelily: An evening of refreshing creativity
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dmosc



Joined: Jun 23, 2003
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 11:42 am    Post subject: Groovelily: An evening of refreshing creativity Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Groovelily: An evening of refreshing creativity

I had the pleasure of hearing this group at a small venue near Philadelphia this past Saturday (April 9th, 2005). It was one of the best shows I have seen in a while. Groovelily is a trio playing a variety of styles from rock, folk, jazz, to musical theatre. The group features a keyboard player (Brendan Milburn), who helps with the vocals and carries the bass line, a drummer (Gene Lewin), who also helps with the vocals, and an electric violin player (Valerie Vigoda), who is also the lead vocalist.

The group is strong on originality and that starts with the electric violin. The fretted 6 string instrument (I believe matching a violin and the two lower strings from a viola) is run through some electronics to give a diverse timbres ranging from the classical violin sound you’d expect to full out metal guitar. Due to the small size and agility of the violin and Mrs. Vigoda’s clear talent, she lays down some solos that would make any guitar player’s fingers numb trying to match. The use of electronic effects here is also commendable. Rarely have I heard loops used so organically and supportively. One might expect some level of roughness from taking a violin player and casting her in role of a lead guitarist, but Valerie Vigoda’s technical proficiency and musicianship will lay your concerns to rest. Indeed, one is left with a refreshing sense of uniqueness and a desire to hear more.

The vocals of the group are quite good. With some well thought out lyrics from Brendan Milburn, the group does 3 part acapella singing very well, but they mostly provide vocals of Brendan Milburn or Valerie Vigoda with instrumental accompaniment. Mrs. Vigoda’s vocals are particularly notable. Her voice has as refreshing a sound quality as her instruments. Vaguely reminiscent of Alanis Morissette or Tori Amos, she has exquisite pitch and control. She can switch dynamics dramatically as well as change her style from an airy, light sound to her rich full voice. In fact, my only criticism of the group is that her vocal microphone wasn’t up to the task of capturing such a dynamic voice. Perhaps it was the headset, or it could also have been the fault of the venue's sound system.

Easily the best thing about Groovelily is their musicianship. Drummer Gene Lewin plays the drum as if he is singing; not just creating pitchless time keeping. During his drum solo, you could see him mouthing the sounds, not just imagining the rhythms that he wanted to play. It came through as an emotionally rich playing style. Brendan Milburn is an amazingly talented keyboard / singer / songwriter. His drive (in fact the whole group’s) comes through in every composition. I makes you stand up and cheer. Groovelily is clearly living the dream of doing what they love. Their music is so pure and unique that it will, I’ll say it again, leave you refreshed by their creativity.

But it’s not just about the individual pieces. What really struck me was the sense that I was listening to, instead of a rock group, a trio of chamber musicians completely in tune with each other and playing for that rich group sound. More than just the group dynamics of a jazz ensemble, Groovelily has a unique sound they’re striving for and all three musicians know their role perfectly. This is probably most clear in their new work called “Striking 12” which is a music theatre piece composed by the band, for the band. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story “The Little Match Girl”, this music tells a story set to song in the old folk style spiced with Groovelily’s origianl blend of jazz, rock, and acapella singing.

So what's the bottom line? Groovelily is one of the most refreshingly creative, talented, and original groups you’re likely to hear. Some mp3s are available off of their website: http://www.groovelily.com/ and they are in the midst of touring across the USA. Anyone who’s looking for something new or for some creative inspiration should check them out. Thank you Groovelily for a marvelous show and for refreshing my musical soul.
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GovernorSilver



Joined: Apr 26, 2004
Posts: 1337
Location: Washington DC Metro
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Having seen them in Vienna, VA, I heartily agree. I had to get in the autograph line to give my regards to the band, especially Val, as a fellow 6-string Viper owner (though I am nowhere near her league on the instrument). They are as nice as they are talented.
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