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Cameron Avery At Harvard & Stone, Monday April 20th 2015

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Cameron Avery

You can sometimes stumble on the most unexpected people in small clubs in Silverlake/Hollywood… yesterday I saw Cameron Avery at Harvard & Stone on Hollywood boulevard, and if this name does not ring a bell for you, let’s just say he plays in the popular band Tame Impala! The psych-pop Aussie band was playing at Coachella and this can explain why Cameron was around, but he is more than a bassist in an ascending-to-fame young band, Cameron Avery also has his own solo project, The Growl, among many other projects – he also played drums for Pond and was one half of Allbrook/Avery. But on Monday night he was alone on stage and left a very strong impression on me.

First of all he has a sort of old-time charisma, and not only because he is a very good-looking guy, but because of his strong and warm baritone, which seemed to belong to an all-time classic recording. While his voice was installing a deep and seductive ambiance, almost Elvis-like, with all the confidence but without any of the artifices, he was playing slow-paced bluesy-countrish ballads, reflective about love and heartbreaks, with just a guitar and rhythmic loops or heavy breathing effects, that he was recording on the spot.

It was the first time I was going to a show at Harvard & Stone, an interesting bar with an old-school décor, but I found the crowd particularly noisy, still speaking very loudly during his set… didn’t these people come to listen to music? Still his voice was so good that it was still piercing strongly over the incessant chatting.

One of his most striking numbers was a rendition of the blues classic ‘John the Revelator’, that he sang with just a harmonica and again recorded-on-the-site loops,… it was gritty, chaotic, and raw, like a powerful chain-gang number evoking Tom Waits’ stomping and visceral style, and I actually thought that either the bar-talking was quieter for a little moment or he was actually louder… still it was impossible to not pay attention to his performance.

His band, The Growl, has released ‘What Would Christ Do’ in April 2013, and some of the tracks sound much more abrasive and experimental than what I have heard last night. Cameron has said in interviews he was obsessed with Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin at a very young age, because of the musical tastes of his parents, both church leaders. Some of the King’s big persona has certainly left some shades somewhere in his bluesy soulful songs like this devastating ballad ‘You Can Leave me on Boxing Day’ he performed last night, or is it his compatriot Nick Cave I am hearing in this stomping-bluesy song ‘Dance with Me’? Whatever, those songs are so beautiful I couldn’t resist posting them here. At this point, I don’t know if Cameron Avery has a solo career, is part of the Growl or part of Tame Impala or is doing everything at once – well, he also composes scores for movies! Just like his voice, which was bravely dominating the room, this guy refuses to be pigeonhole and follows his own bluesy path.

More pictures here.

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