Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Jonny Rodgers plays wine glasses. Yes, for real. Yes, it’s awesome.

October 21, 2013

Jonny Rodgers really cares about the qualities of water in various metropolitan areas, because he needs hard water so that his wine glasses will resonate. Now I know: Chapel Hill has awesome water. Washington, DC: not so much. All in a day’s stage banter, you know?

While his interstitial comments were charming, they underscored the fragility and complexity of his performance. When one is trying to keep the resonance of glass in the forefront of a composition, there’s not much room for distortion or multi-instrument arrangement. Armed with his 17-piece glass set, a guitar, a tiny keyboard (with drum machine), and a complex foot pedal, Rodgers spun ethereal, delicate tunes. Rodgers’ songwriting style is so well-developed that the songs commanded attention, regardless of the fact that they never got very loud at all; his varied rhythms and ever-intriguing patterns of wine glass tapping kept me fascinated.

He opened with single “Everything is Yours,” which features the glass prominently. It resonated beautifully despite the tiny, low-ceiling room. (It’s not called “The Cave” for nothing.) He also impressed with the ornate, haunting “Spero,” which is featured on a compilation raising funds against human trafficking. Rodgers’ high, soaring voice fit perfectly over the intricate fingerpicking that he filled out the body of his songs with, especially in tunes like “Don’t Be Afraid to Be Small.” “Small” also featured the most complex drum machine work of the night, with Rodgers showing a bit of his love for electronica.

Rodgers knows how to impress and engage an audience. The visual spectacle of watching him manipulate the wine glasses is impressive, and the songs that he coaxes out of his gear are equally exciting. If you’re up for an intriguing, unique music experience, you should check out Rodgers tonight at The Pour House or somewhere else along his current tour.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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