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The Battlefield, Leo Rondeau, Pearl Charles At Grand Ole Echo, Sunday July 17th 2016


Pearl Charles


The Battlefield opened another episode of the Grand Ole Echo on Sunday afternoon, and the LA indie folk trio put up a great set of uplifting and battling songs, with banjo, swampy guitars, accordion laying flat on a table, and an occasional harmonica. They had good bombasts, definitively going for an approach more folksy than country, sounding a bit like a more subtle version of Mumford & Sons, filling their songs with folksy and often spiritual man-woman harmonies, building a mysterious and often solemn atmosphere. Americana would probably the term they would be willing to embrace, with a real melancholia, but always ready for a battlefield. Their Eagles-que harmonies often tip toed through the songs built around delicate guitar, soulful accordion, tambourine and lots of percussion as they were looking for serenity and beauty, although many of their porch songs were transforming into some great stomps. They covered the song that inspired their moniker, Pat Benatar’s ‘Love Is a Battlefield’, which is not what you would expect from a folk trio, but as they said, they want to represent the many human conflicts in our hearts and minds, in ‘a place where church and saloon meet’.

Austin Texas-based Leo Rondeau was a real cowboy, the type you see on screen with an irresistible big smile and a face you can’t imagine without a large hat. He surely had style, with one long braid à la Willie Nelson on his shoulder, and a large band around him, playing soon-to-be-classic country and boot-tapping songs inspired by the greatest, from Hank Williams to Townes Van Zandt. He invited couples to dance, something many of them immediately did, transforming the Echoplex into a dance hall music for most of his set. From languid-mellow aching ballads to dynamic honky-tonks with some Tex-Mex spices, his leg moves may not have been as great as those of Dwight Yokam, but there was something very authentic about the North Dakota Native and his good old-fashioned storytelling, sang with a real twang.

Pearl Charles was the last performer of the night, and the very young songwriter was surrounded by four musicians including a pedal steel player, bringing a more Americana feel, although her music was certainly injected by more bluesy riffs and poppier melodies than the previous bands. Her angelic face made her look very young, and with her western-hippie look she could have been Jenny Lewis’ little sister inspired by a 60’s psychedelia, and I mostly say this because she said she wrote a song with her friend Johnathan Rice. Her pretty voice had a sort of vintage feel and was going very well with her blend of folk, alt-country, Americana, and perhaps rock, although her set stayed more on a sensual and languid side than on a rocking side. There may have had a sort of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick vibe on some songs, she also covered The Carpenters’ ‘Superstar’, which suited her very well. Pearl Charles has released a debut EP, and you can see the proud California girl smoking a joint on the cover, which does tell you something.

More pictures here



The Battlefield


Leo Rondeau


Pearl Charles

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