The LIttlest Birds

LIVE: The Be Good Tanyas w/Dan Bern @ The Hamilton - 10/16/12

There have been countless instances in music history where a key band member has been felled by an injury and a replacement must be found for the show to go on. Often it’s a friend, someone on loan from another band, or a studio musician who gets the call to fill in. When The Be Good Tanyas’ Sam Parton was injured in a car accident last month, band mate Frazey Ford made a radical choice in selecting her temporary replacement, a choice that could very well drive a lesser musician to tears, if not outright madness: her own mother.

So it was that the two remaining Tanyas, Ford and Trish Klein, along with drummer John Raham and bassist Mark Beaty, were joined by Ford’s mother, Diane, for a fantastic show at the Hamilton Tuesday night. While the loss of Parton’s mandolin was noticeable, the elder Ford did a superb job filling out the harmonies on some of BGT’s best known songs, and also helped provide some humor as Ford adjusted to having her mom on stage with her.

They opened with “In Spite of All the Damage” from 2003’s Chinatown, a quiet lead-in before picking up the tempo with a jumpy version of “Ootischenia” and the ominous (but seasonally appropriate) “Scattered Leaves.” Other highlights included Klein playing a mean harmonica on “Human Thing,” the perfect harmonies of “Midnight Moonlight,” and the show stopping closer “Light Enough to Travel.”

TO DO LIST: The Be Good Tanyas @ The Hamilton TONIGHT!!!

It will be a slightly downsized but no less brilliant Be Good Tanyas that take the Hamilton stage this evening. Founding member Sam Parton was involved in a car accident early last month, and she was forced to drop out of this leg of the tour as she continues her recovery in the band’s home town of Vancouver.

While Parton will be missed, the other two Tanyas, Frazey Ford and Trish Klein, are a formidable musical presence on their own. The band’s three albums, Blue Horse, Chinatown, and Hello Love are superb, and the highlights were assembled on this year’s Collection 2000-2012.

The Tanyas make some of the most understated and beautiful acoustic music out there – a mix of folk, country, and bluegrass that revolves around the harmonies and interplay of the band members. While some folk bands aspire to sound “old-timey,” the Tanyas’ music transcends that kind of label – it’s simple, well-constructed, and a joy to listen to. Drummer John Raham and bassist Mark Beaty will join Ford and Klein to fill out the sound, but really, the two could show up sans instruments and still put on a fantastic show.

To put the Tanyas’ musical output into perspective, they’ve released just three albums in 12 years; show opener Dan Bern has released three albums since May, beginning with Drifter, a wonderful roots-rock travelogue that illustrates why he’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the business. Bern’s live shows are always fantastic, blending serious subjects and surreal stories with the skill of a juggler.

One missing Be Good Tanya won’t detract from a night of wonderful acoustic music.

Get your tickets HERE. We'll see you at the show.