Natalia Zukerman and Garrison Starr at Passim

Within minutes of the show’s beginning, the audience at Club Passim could tell that Natalia Zukerman and Garrison Starr were there to rock. Not your typical folk co-bill, these ladies brought an energy and enthusiasm for their profession that was impossible not to be engaged and moved by.

Garrison started the show off, and blew the socks right off this reviewer—and the audience at large. Her voice is soaked with a whiskey-tinged character, a mix of twang and that quality performers like Janis Joplin are know for that’s just impossible to articulate. Starr’s voice is one to remember, and it doesn’t hurt that she writes a damn fine song, too. Each song in her set felt as alive as the one before it. Favorites included “Unchangeable,” a humbling tune that questions the limits of love, and “Beautiful in Los Angeles,” which would be playing on every good pop-rock station in the Summer if the people in charge had a clue. Starr’s humor and stage presence can’t go without mention either—this is one funny lady. It was the first time I had seen Garrison, but most certainly not the last. She had me in the palm of her hand with that sweet Southern accent and that laugh like a cork pulled from a champagne bottle. A true performer in every sense of the word, and I eagerly suggest picking up “Relive,” Starr’s latest release.

Natalia was up next, touring in support of her latest record, “Gas Station Roses,” which finds the folk songsmith at her finest yet. A profoundly different record from her previous releases, Zukerman couldn’t have looked happier to finally have the disc for sale and to play these new songs for the Passim audience. The audience was hooting and hollering at Zukerman’s masterful guitar playing—especially on songs like “Southern Wind” and “Brand New Frame”—and just as soothed and moved by tunes like “Always” and “In The Morning,” a jazzy tune so new that it isn’t even on the new record. And if the newer material is any indication of Zukerman’s trajectory—not to mention recent gigs with legends like Janis Ian and Tom Paxton—I’m not quite sure how much longer Club Passim will be able to hold everyone hypnotized by Natalia.

This review would be remiss if it did not mention the ridiculously talented Mona Tavakoli, who backed up Starr and Zukerman on this tour. She does things with the box drum that are downright unholy, and has an energy that, if bottled up, would solve all the problems of the world.

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