Wide range: Turbine continues the streak

MUSIC REVIEW- Wide range: Turbine continues the streak

Published March 10, 2005 in issue 0410 of the Hook

Fellini's No. 9
Thursday, March 3


Fellini's No. 9 is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurant/bar/venues in town. For one thing, the place is ridiculously beautiful. Surrounded by stained wood, fireplace blazing, it offers a warm escape on a cold winter's night.

Another is that their act schedule seems particularly eclectic; where some venues seem to cater to a particular crowd (jam, rock, bluegrass), you never know who you're going to see take the corner (the makeshift stage) at the place. Turbine, a guitar duo from New York, is more evidence of this genre capaciousness, and once again it proved to be a good thing.

Once the band began to play, I was immediately struck by two things– the amazingly smooth electric guitar sound produced by vocalist Jeremy Hilliard– and his voice. At first I thought the silky tones from the stage were the result of an organ, but seeing discerning no man behind the curtain, I realized that the winding and occasionally amazing lead work was coming from the instrument to the right.

Sounding a bit like Wilco's Jeff Tweedy– but with better enunciation– Hilliard's gritty tone was nicely complemented by guitarist and harmonica player Ryan Rightmire's harmonies.

"Desert Rose" I originally mistook for the instrumental beginning of Pink Floyd's "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond" (and hearing the album version now from their debut CD, Don't Mind If I Should, I can see why), until a minute into the piece where the lurching Floyd beat shifts to a country-folk tune. Ryan Rightmire's harmonica was featured nicely here, moving from bluesy to a folksier feel as the song switches genres, and his harmonies on the "Desert Rose..." chorus were spot-on.

On the other hand, the tune was rather rambling after about four minutes, and like the recorded version, the next three minutes consisted of one chord progression and guitar and harmonica soloing.

"Traveling Man" (the title was apparent in the song's lyrics about sleeping bags and such) is a jaunty little number, awash in a blues progression (with some jazzy detours), and to me serves as the group's trademark song, though seeming to describe another individual. The lyrics seem to be almost a summary of the group: a two-man traveling band, a self-contained unit, ready for whatever the road may throw at them.

A sweet pop song or two later, the first set was over, and though the second seemed imbued with the so-so instrumentals that litter their debut album, the first half of the show had been enough to keep my buzz going long into the night.

Photo by Máire Corcoran