22 Brides

An Econolodge Honeymoon Tour

By Paul Moffett

"We stay at Econolodge 'cause the rooms are always the same," explained Libby Johnson.

"Then it's always like we're at home," finished up sister Carrie, the other half of the core of 22 Brides.

The two sisters, together with percussionist Ned Stroh ("Like the beer"), formed all that there was of 22 Brides at the Rudyard Kipling on June 16. The band is on tour in support of its first release on Zero Hour records, an independent label based in New York. The new album got positive mentions in the trade magazine Billboard, including one on the cover.

If it seemed to be a couches and beer tour for a band with champagne aspirations, the advance publicity was antipodally intense, including a phone call touting the band from an A&R man associated with a different record company. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the advance cassette did not arrive by show time, so the experience was entirely new.

In spite of a truly dismal turnout, the trio leapt energetically into their set, opening with "Wild in My Arms," a tune from the album. The set consisted mostly of songs from the album. Standouts included "Visions of You" and "City of Brides."

It became clear in short order that this trio was doing material originally recorded with and for a full band. The family blend of voices and the very fine percussion of Stroh was not enough to fill the space left by the missing instruments.

It made this reviewer want to listen to the album to hear what the songs "really" sounded like, which, one would suppose, is a purpose of such a tour.

Which is not to say that the experience was not pleasant and fun, which it was for the most part. The sisters and Ned hung out in the audience before the show, talking with everyone there. The tunes were well-crafted, the singing was excellent, the drumming was dynamically interesting and filled in a lot of musical space. The mix, however, was not clear enough for listeners to understand the lyrics and an irritating buzz from an amplifier was intrusive and unrepaired.

The next time through town, it would not be surprising to find the sisters in front of a full group, touring in support of a hit record. It would be even more fun.