Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ursa Minor at the Living Room

Ursa Minor (Latin: "Smaller Bear", contrasting with Ursa Major), also known as the Little Bear, is a constellation in the northern sky. Ursa Minor is also a Brooklyn-based folk-rock band playing the local music clubs. Ursa Minor was envisioned and founded by vocalist Michelle Casillas and is filled out with guitarist Tony Scherr, bassist Rob Jost and drummer Robert DiPietro. Ursa Minor’s debut album is called Silent Moving Picture.

Just when you thought there could not be any more original bands, Ursa Minor is an original band. At the Living Room last night, Ursa Minor showed itself to be perhaps a musician’s curiosity. Few if any of the songs followed a standard signature all the way through, at least not measure for measure. The songs told simple stories or musings, but were arranged almost like a classical suite. The compositions started here, traveled there and came back to their point of origin again. Melodies were established, then rapidly exchanged for others. Casillas sang with moody Joni Mitchell inflections, but with a boldness that the veteran folksinger never knew. Scherr was simply a brilliant lead guitarist; he hones his craft with his own ensemble at the Living Room every Monday night. The rhythm section ably drove the songs. When you think you have heard it all, Ursa Minor will surprise.