with Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers and Jeff & Vida
The Pensacola Museum of Industry (Radio Live), Pensacola, FL • June 7, 2002
On a monthly basis, the University of West Florida’s radio station WUWF produces “Radio Live,” a live music program that attempts to emulate Austin City Limits. Using the pleasing acoustics in the Pensacola Museum of Industry, regional and touring acts play short set before a 200-300 person audience while the broadcast goes out live; Mike West, Kim Carson, and Gas Tank Orchestra are among previous performers. The lineup on June 7th was exceptional, as New Orleans bluegrass duo Jeff and Vida joined Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers and Jim White for an early evening of terrific music.
The schedule of performance was a bit odd as the bands all played two short sets in a kind of round robin format, so it was hard to tell who was actually the headliner, but on this stage Jim White was obviously the best, followed by Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers and Jeff and Vida.
Although Jeff and Vida are billed as a duo, they were joined by an upright bass player as they powered through their twin sets of traditional bluegrass, or as traditional as you can be with a guitar, mandolin, and bass. Their songs seemed to cry out for a plaintive fiddle, but Vida’s strong, lovely voice and the energy of the small band were quite captivating.
I’ve seen Myshkin perform on her own, with Mike West and with the Ez Bake Organs, and Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers is by far her most musically polished band as they melded bits of bluegrass, Klezmer, and Zydeco into a whiling dervish that at times veered dangerously close to Brave Combo territory. The down side is, ironically, Myshkin’s lyrics, which are usually her strongest suit. In this case, they were the weak link of the band that featured guitar, stand up bass, and one fantastic drummer.
On various occasions of seeing Jim White play, his bands have taken on very different lineups and now he is down to himself, a guitar and technology, as he’s done away with other musicians and performs with samplers, beat box and at least one of every kind of effect and delay pedal on the market. The result is a spartan but very effective show that in a way comes closer to the ambience of his records than he ever has with a full band. Although far from his best night on stage, and without enough time to really get into his normal groove, Jim White still managed to wow the crowd with songs like “Perfect Day to Chase Tornadoes,” “Ten Miles to go on a Nine Mile Road,” and “God Was Drunk When He Made Me.”