Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Syd Straw at the HiFi Bar

Syd Straw was born to actor parents in Vermont; her father, Jack Straw, is best known for starring in the 1957 musical film The Pajama Game. The parents divorced, and in 1969 Syd moved with her mother to Los Angeles, California. Syd sang in her high school choir, but bombed her SATs, so after high school, she relocated to New York in 1978, where she landed a gig singing backup for a then-promising Pat Benatar. From 1984 to 1987, Straw sang in the experimental group Golden Palominos, which enjoyed a cult following. She released her debut solo album in 1989, but continued singing on the albums of other artists and acted in recurring roles on television. After relocations to Athens, Georgia, and Chicago, Illinois, Straw presently lives in Weston, Vermont. Her fourth and most recent album is 2008's Pink Velour.

Brownie's was a premier indie music club in the 1990s; the owners later renamed it the HiFi Bar and in 2014 began booking live acts again. Although little publicized, Syd Straw's performances there have been drawing full houses. Accompanied by her guitar, guitarist Don Piper and a violinist, Straw sang confessional songs about love and loss. The singer-songwriter drew a bit from folk, country and blues traditions, but mostly her set was all about joining her expressive writing to a simple melody. Straw sang with a mature yet unpolished voice that made her lyrical ruminations that much more human and common. The music was soft and somber, but Straw also has a quick wit, and generated frequent chuckles from the audience between songs with her improvised quips and anecdotes. Straw is little known to the masses, but she can tell or sing a story like the best.

Syd Straw returns to the HiFi Bar on Wednesday, January 20.