Ain't gonna fall: A low-key sort of evening

Hard Rain
at Dürty Nelly's
Saturday, December 11

Saturday night, December 11, was a bleak one, where even the usual drunken revelers who lunge by my car window as I make my way toward the University seemed to have decided that studying for finals was a good idea. The streets were as bare as the aftermath in a disaster film, but not heeding the siren call of my warm couch at home, I made my way to Dürty Nelly's to check out the group Hard Rain.

As I was sitting close to the fire there, warmth returned to my bones when the group started to play its choice selection of covers and original tunes.

"If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone, you can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles" began the group's acoustic guitarist and lead vocalist on the Hedy West song "500 miles." Though written by folk musicians of the traditional vein, the Hard Rain version added some rock and country to its softer-leaning undertones.

Besides the acoustic guitarist, the group also featured a lead guitarist of considerable worth, an always together drummer, and a stand-up bassist. From a part Spanish guitar/part blues solo by the acoustic guitarist (what strong hands you have), to another slow solo from the electrified version, the group performed the soft, moody number with consummate ease.

Next up were the blues, though I did not recognize the tune. "Slow down, slow down... just want to ride your train," went the song, as the drummer's driving brushes beat a refreshingly quiet beat (this venue is too small for a band to rock out).

Around this point the crowd swelled, filling almost every seat at the bar and assorted tables– evidently Hard Rain has a bit of a following.

Returning to the country/rock vein, the group performed what I suspect was an original tune, a wistful tale of lost love, before quickly changing things up with an instrumental by blues guitarist Kenny Burnell that featured so many guitars solos it would have made a jam band blush.

In the latter half of the first set, local blues singer Dinah Pearson sat in with the group, lending her priceless pipes on a number by blues musician Elmore James, and Preston Foster's "Got my mojo working," best known in the Muddy Waters' version. "I've got my mojo working" sang Pearson in her strong vibrant voice, backed by "mojo working" calls from the rest of the group– the number was the most raucous in a set of calm numbers, and it made the best impression on me.

The group was a fine one, instrumentally spot-on, and sounded great together– the one thing I'd suggest is mixing up the set a little with some more up-tempo numbers now and then.

Hard Rain