Story and Images by Tony Contini
Pignic Pub & Patio was filling up towards the end of Rachael McElhiney’s set at the monthly Loud As Folk showcase. Someone leaned towards me and said, “I’ve never seen Pignic this quiet.”
McElhiney’s delicate power and excellence demand attention. She told the crowd she was glad to go first so she could watch the rest of the performers. She played it off like she was nervous at first, then started her set with a striking a cappella song accompanied only by her snapping fingers. As a disco ball spun above, her voice reverberated and filled the small house venue.
McElhiney’s songs are passionate and charming. She’s a multi-instrumentalist with the sweetest voice and smile in town.
“Whoever’s next is next, but I bet they’re gonna be wearing a cowboy hat,” McElhiney joked. “I didn’t get the memo.” Someone then immediately donned a black cowgirl hat on her as she finished the set.
McElhiney’s longtime friend and partner in crime Bryan Jones AKA Buffalo Moses took the stage after her.
“You were so good, gurrrrl,” Jones said as she left the stage.
Jones is essentially perfect every time. He tells beautiful stories with brimming conviction. To quote an older cowboy-hatted gentleman in earshot, “That guy’s good.”
McElhiney joined him onstage and they played a few songs from their band Buster Blue. Every song is iconic and memorable. The first baritone sax line McElhiney ripped into had the crowd roaring. When you start to dig and discover the great artists in your hometown, you can see your local Nina Simone or Father John Misty in tiny bars down the street from your house.
Leroy Virgil of Hellbound Glory took a seat on a bass drum and got chasing the strings of his guitar around as he tuned. Virgil plays country tunes with glaring authenticity and charm. He’s hilarious while taken seriously. He seems to be simultaneously winking at everyone in the room through verses while kicking the bass drum and slaying the harmonica in between.
He confessed his love for Reno and dedicated a song to the scumbags, complete with references to cocaine, neon glare, casino air, and cops that don’t care.
The headliner had a scheduling conflict and in true Loud As Folk fashion, founder Spike McGuire threw together a mean finale starting with Greg Gilmore of Silver and ending with McGuire, McElhiney and John Underwood (another absurdly talented multi-instrumentalist) as a trio.
For more on Loud As Folk visit https://www.loudasfolk.com/