One of my favorite movie lines is from Playing by Heart: "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." Nobody else has ever explained my sentiments so much better, and maybe that's why it took me months to just suck it up and sit down to tell you about this musical trio we met at the end of January. Their sound is indescribably good. In spite of my general ability to use too many words, when writing about music, I never can find the right ones. So I'll tell you about the night I first heard A Mad Affair, share links to 3 of their videos for variety, then invite you to come see them live, tonight in Greensboro! (And if you're not free, they'll be back in town soon!)
Kris Ferris and I had gone to hear the Chapel Hill trio at a house concert hosted at Brad and Tammy's Listening Loft in Reidsville. Since Kris is also a musician, we tend to run into quite a few other friends and acquaintances when we go out. It was my first house concert experience. The intimacy of this arrangement had us practically sitting on stage where I was rapt, letting the harmonies and rhythms envelop me. Maybe even better than the ambience and hospitality inherent in this kind of setup was getting to hang out with the band and enjoy them as people, too. Because while live music is among my favorite things in the world, down-to-earth, real people rank even higher, in my book.
So in addition to having one of the richest voices I've ever heard in person, Valerie Wood invited me to have a glimpse of her love affair with good food. Including bleu cheese with grapes. Yum. Thank you Valerie! And not only does Eric Smith master that double bass in a way you just don't hear every day, but he's an interesting conversationalist, too. Our mutual friends Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco had brought him a copy of a calendar in which he was one of their stunning Living Brush bodypainting models. We chatted a bit as he flipped through the pages, which was when it initially struck me just how genuinely nice this guy seems. (Also, yes, that's his real hair and yes, it took a long time. 14 years, if I remember correctly.) But it didn't stop there. Afterward, after a surprise conversation with a poet I'd just met who, it turns out, sits on a board with one of my best friends, I was drawn down the hall toward the sound of even more live music where I discovered Kris on a sofa with the other band member, Garth Robertson, whose guitar riffs I'd so much enjoyed while he'd harmonized with Valerie on stage earlier, and who was now being accompanied in spontaneous riffs on the saw, of all things, by Crystal Bright and our host, Brad Spencer, who played mandolin. My favorite part about that little afterparty of sorts was experiencing the sheer joy in Garth's energy as he moved from one song to the next, whether playing the guitar and singing, soaking up the sound of Kris's voice with his eyes closed, then jumping up to go across the room and grab a traditional drum to keep the beat. More than once, I got the sense that he was having a transcendental experience.
Since there's no way to convey the richness of A Mad Affair's sounds, I've linked to 3 of their YouTube videos. Click the images to go hear. Then if you're as enamored with their sound as we are, and you live in the area, come out to the Showcase of Original Music tonight at The Creative Center and enjoy them for yourself.