Friday, December 3, 2010

Terri Hendrix at the Little Carver Center

Songwriting is a tough craft to master. A few people are born with great natural talent in that direction, honed and nurtured to an art, like Cohan and Gerswin and Paul Simon and Lennon and McCartney (together; separately, neither attained the highest level). Others strive and strain for years, for decades, and are lucky to produce one or two songs where everything comes together. Meanwhile, they create as best they can, and when their work is performed, they're subjected to critiques from people like me, who have some idea of the work involved, but have long since given up the attempt. Still, you don't have to be Paul Simon to recognize  quality in the work.

Performing is another tough craft to master. To get up on stage in front of any number of strangers and sing, or play, or both, is too terrifying for most of us to contemplate. Some people are lucky: they are at home on stage. Most of them are better on stage than off, as anyone who's watched very many interview programs can attest. 

Terri Hendrix
I took in a performance tonight by Terri Hendrix, a local singer-songwriter that my Significant Other happens to like. Myself, I was never that wild about her work, though a couple of songs made it into the mix of a thousand or so pieces that I carry in my cars to listen to on the road. She has a very good voice and a tremendous range, and shows it off to good effect in her performance. Her songwriting is good, even if it lacks a certain lyricism and uses more spoken lines than I would like. And on occasion, she is at the top of her craft and gets everything just right. 

Watching her, I'm amazed how comfortable she is while singing and playing, yet how uncomfortable she is between songs. Her voice quavers as she talks -- mostly to fill the time while instruments are tuned, but it'd be nice if she didn't give away the whole story of the upcoming song; it ruins the mystique -- and she fidgets with equipment and instruments to distraction. Still, the effect is to bring the audience closer to her, as if she's just the neighbor's kid instead of some kind of Performer With A Capital P.

I don't know if the Little Carver Center theater is a good venue for her, I think. It's clearly a step up in class from roadhouses and dance halls, but I'm not sure if that's a step she really wants to take. With its Rotary International chairs and cocktail tables, it makes even this sandal-clad audience a tad reserved. I suspect that seeing Terri Hendrix at a place like Casbeer's would be a whole lot more fun, for her and for her audience. Still, there are those of us who would never go to a place like Casbeer's, or Gruene Hall, or Floore's. And maybe it's a nice change for her to play to an audience that isn't rowdy and unrestrained. I don't know.

Lloyd Maines on guitar, John Silva hiding behind him, Terri
Hendrix, and Glenn Fukunaga hiding behind her.
One other thing: she should get a better photographer. (Not me, obviously.) When she came out on stage, I thought, having seen her photo in the program, that the woman at the mike was some hot young '09-er come to make the introduction, and to be seen.  

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