Sol 17 at The Highlands Tap Room

By David Lilly

Have you ever tried to play a musical instrument or just move about freely in a walk-in closet? If so, you have some idea of what it was like for Sol 17 to set up and play their music in the Highlands Tap Room on March 7, 2003. Nothing agin the bar; it has good atmosphere and it's cozy. It's just that the performance space is practically nonexistent. However, Louisville acts Sol 17 and guest Thirtysilver performed memorably and sounded good.

I could say that Thirtysilver (a.k.a. Ryan Dawson of Jeffersonville, IN) warmed up the crowd, but it's more accurate to say he just played first, since there were numerous patron changes between acts. What amazed and amused me was that, during Dawson's hour-long set of emotional and well-written original songs, most of the "audience" occupying table seats was talking and pretty well oblivious to what he was doing, yet he carried on in good humor as if he had the rapt attention of everyone in the room. Just a man and his guitar at a microphone, offering his art to Friday night inebriety.

Just a brief sound check later, Sol 17 took the "stage," amounting to the right-front (from the bar) portion of the room. Brave souls they are: Donnie Arbuckle on drums, the bright-eyed and friendly Ray Wegimont on guitar and the very talented and witty Melissa Gaddie on bass and larynx. Because Sol 17's eponymous debut CD is 35 minutes long, they obviously played a lot of other material as well during a nearly two-hour set. Unfortunately I had to leave after the first set, but what I saw and heard during that time was a music trio that loves and believes in what they do. Musicians who really enjoy playing in public, even in a small room of 25 or 30 people, can't help but show it and it's obvious with Sol 17. As a bassist, vocalist, gifted lyricist and not your school's most popular cheerleader, Gaddie sings, plays and makes eye contact like a wallflower who has no choice other than to get up there and express herself. Her between-songs chatter displays a sense of humor as strong as her calling to music and performing. I spoke with Arbuckle just briefly, but found him a very gracious person as well as a good musician. He is a far better drummer than I am. Besides that, anyone who is willing to sit in a corner of that room, bang on a small kit to help make this good music and understands when a journalist has to leave early, is alright with me. Wegimont appears to be the technical wizard and sound engineer of this outfit. Several times during the first set he wandered to the middle of the room to check the sound from the audience's POV, while continuing to play consistently good electric guitar.

If you'd like to hear and see for yourself what I'm talking about, email Melissa Gaddie via

Sol17@earthlink.net

and hire them to play, or keep an eye on the LMN music calendar at

www.louisvillemusicnews.com

and take some friends along next time Sol 17 plays..