March 16, 2012
First, let me state that there is nothing subterranean about the Subterranean Arthouse in Berkeley, CA. It is more of a fairly small sized art gallery with mismatched chairs and a sink in the back to make yourself some tea. I was rather expecting a dimly-lit basement bar with unfinished walls and a low ceiling, PBR on tap and an audience of anachronistic beatniks snapping their fingers, rather than applauding, the polite folk music stylings of Kelly McFarling.
KM made a previous appearance on MV&R when she did a very nice (indeed) cover of Joni Mitchell’s Little Green at Uncovered: Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Many were taken with her Zoe Deschanel voice and banjo accompaniment. Her banjo playing is not a-mighty-fine-picking a la old-timey, foot-stomping bluegrass but, rather, is used more like a strumming folk guitar or rolling chord plucking a la Shawn Colvin, Joni Mitchell etc. But she is a mighty fine singer which made the short performance at the Arthouse very enjoyable despite the violated expectations. Her songs are well-crafted and thoughtful and she is a performer with real potential although the performance sounded more complete when she was accompanied by a full band rather than on her own. Still, if you like the folkie singer-songwriter thing, Kelly is worth checking out.