It’s not often that a warm-up act really blows my mind, so when they do, I know they’re special. When I went to see Lee MacDougall at 3rd and Lindsley on August 13, the Heather Bond Trio became the latest in a very short line of mindblowers. I was skeptical when they took the stage, carting only a cajón, a keyboard, and a cello. I was wrong. So wrong.
What Heather, Matt, and Mike did with their precious few instruments was nothing short of magical. There was so much more music than any three people could possibly produce, with full chords, sweeping legato lines, and precise staccato that marked their obvious command of their talent. The far-too-short set opened with Shooting Star, featuring sweeping piano chords held steady by the cello. What really surprised me was how pure and ethereal her voice is, and yet it never got lost in the rest of the sound.
Walk Alone, which is the lead track from her latest EP, came next, and the group continued to impress with their tight performance skills. There was never a falter, never a bum note, even though there was a bit of acrobatics necessary with piano, voice, and cello. It was quite obvious that the group share a mutual respect and a lot of practice time.
The same attention to detail continued through the next numbers, including End Up Loving, which touched me lyrically as well as musically. Heather really showed her chops as a lyricist with everything she sang, but this one nearly brought tears. Some Other Lover was also tenderly and beautifully conveyed, supported fully by the rich notes of the cello. Her sweet voice was in direct contrast to the biting words, and the disparity made the tune even more powerful. Added to that were the driving notes marked by deliberate pauses, and the outcome was a chill-inducing bit of musical magic.
And just when thought she couldn’t possibly have another trick up her sleeve, Heather pounded out the opening chords of Regret, blowing what was left of my mind. She really makes the most of the keyboard, pulling out full, lower chords that contrast nicely with her sweet vocals. Of course, she changed it up completely with the last song, giving us all a sultry, blues-tinged piece with smoky vocals. All Your Lies closed the show and left me wishing for so much more. I could have watched a full show of just the Heather Bond Trio, and I plan to the first chance I get.
The number of times I’ve heard an opening band live before buying the EP or LP rather than the other way around could be counted on one hand. It happened with Everest, Milktooth, and now the Heather Bond Trio. If they do this kind of magic live, I can only imagine what the studio tracks will sound like…and I’m about to find out. You can get your own copy of the EP on iTunes, or you can check out the Facebook page or Heather’s website for a sampling.
Photo by MD Laidlaw