Mmhmm At The Hotel Cafe, Thursday September 6th 2018
It’s never simple to carry a famous name in the music industry, it’s not easy to be James McCartney, Sean Lennon, Harper Simon, Jakob Dylan, Dhani Harrison, … it’s not easy to be the son or the daughter of a famous musician, but what about being the granddaughter of a music icon?
Nashville resident Raelyn Nelson is the daughter of the late Willie Hugh Nelson Jr., who was himself the son of country star Willie Nelson, and she decided to make a name for herself with this new band. Simply called mmhmm, the new project is a duo she started with another Nashville musician Hannah Fairlight, because they basically look alike, and everyone in Nashville was always taking Raelyn for Hannah and Hannah for Raelyn. It sounded so funny that they started mmhmm together, whereas Raelyn had already The Raelyn Nelson Band and Hannah had played a few crucial roles on A&E’s Crazy Hearts: Nashville and Universal’s ‘Pitch Perfect 3’…
The two young women played a late set at the Hotel Café on Thursday night, and despite a sound problem (there was ‘a drum’ in Raelyn’s ukulele) they kept the show very entertaining, while Raelyn was fixing her ukulele plugging system. Actually, these two are seemed to envision their show as half comedy, half concert, throwing jokes and playing with a goofy attitude while staying incredibly cute the entire time. ‘We have been voted the cutest band around’, said one of them at one point, and I can’t remember if it was Raelyn or Hannah because they really looked similar!
Wearing matching ‘mmhmm’ short-cut tops, homemade chaps and country hats/caps, they had attached two American flags to their microphones, and with Hannah on guitar and Raelyn on ukulele, playfully performed a few songs while having this ongoing funny dialogue-conversation, and repeating all-set-long ‘I am not Raelyn Nelson’, ‘I am not Hannah Fairlight’,… but even though, I got confused.
The songs were at the image of their comedy act, upbeat and fun, with plenty of girl-on-girl harmonies and acoustic riffs spiced up by Hannah’s cute ‘yahooo!’s during songs such as ‘Let’s Get Together’ (from ‘The Parent Trap’), ‘Number Song’, ‘Mamma’s Little Yella Pills’, ‘Good Love’, ‘Take It on the Run’, Coy Boy’, ‘Up In Smoke’…
With a percussion pedal, a festive ukulele and joyful harmonies, the set was a cheerful one while the chemistry between the two women seemed completely genuine despite their different backgrounds: Raelyn is a pure country rock product while Hannah cut her teeth at alt-rock and TV reality shows. Of course, the chaps and the country atmosphere were there to remind us that these girls were from Nashville, Tennessee, although their last song ‘So Hard to Say Goodbye’ had a truly acrobatic pop chorus.
The duo has been called a modern-day Hee Haw, but their album, just released this year, is tackling serious subjects like sex and politics,… and you could almost forget about that while watching this chatty and dynamic duo, which played with the most laid-back attitude I have ever seen…you can’t pronounce the name of their band with an open mouth, but these women surely knew how to open theirs, for everyone’s great amusement.