Spending Thursday evening in Cleveland was a long way from a night in Nashville during AMA week, but there was a saving grace being at Music Box Supper Club. Toasting some nice autumn ale with my wingman and partner-in-crime Dale Elwell, we took in a twin bill of Sarah Borges and opening act The Whiskey Charmers.
Borges, a rock ‘n roll guitar starlet with a dash of cow punk hails from Taunton, Massachusetts, began her career in 2004 performing at SXSW and earned a record deal with Houston's Blue Corn Records. After the release of Silver City in 2005, she moved up the ladder to getting signed by Sugar Hill Records and recorded her follow-up Diamonds in the Dark in 2007. After the album The Stars Are Out was released 2009, Borges married Boston-area guitar player Lyle Brewer and took a few years off to have a son. Ready to return to the studio, she released Radio Sweetheart in 2014 and began the climb back into the musical spotlight. Along with her band The Broken Singles featuring Sam Smith on electric guitar, Binky Rice on bass, and Boey Russell on drums, Borges rode into town touring behind her Ep release Good & Dirty which was produced by Eric Ambel and includes album art by Tony Fitzpatrick. The album name comes a phrase her son uses to describe a blanket that smells like his mama. The band hit the stage with a blazing rockabilly number called “Streetwise Man” and sailed through a sixteen song set including ‘Daniel Lee”, “Stop and Think It Over”, “Caught In The Rain”, “Waiting and Worrying”, “Show You How”, and “Band Girlfriend”. Thrown into the mix was “Comes To Me Naturally” by NRBQ, “Cry One More Time” by J. Geils Band, and Bob Dylan’s “Outlaw Blues”.
I was drawn to this show from an invitation from The Whiskey Charmers lead singer Carrie Shepard who networks the old fashioned way. Based out of Detroit, Shepard and lead guitar/lap steel player Lawrence Daversa had released their debut self-produced, self-titled album in 2015 are one of their city’s new musical darlings. Currently writing for their second album to be released this spring, tonight’s show included Ozzie Andrews on bass and Jim Faulkner on drums giving the live performance a little extra kick. The band opened with “Phonograph” and “Red Wine” having Andrews on banjo bass before going to a traditional electric. The chemistry of Shepard’s vocals mixed with Daversa’s twangy guitar chords and solos sounded wonderful during their eleven song set which included “Songbird”, “Rollercoaster”, “Melody” and “Coal”. Highlights included the redemption song “Straight and Narrow” and the closing number “Sidewinder” about a rattlesnake which began with Shepard’s acoustic guitar before exploding with the full band. Keep an eye on these two as their stock may rise come 2017.