Review: Birds of Chicago & Ryan Boldt at New Moon Folk Club

Intimate, inspiring and, intense are just a few of the things that the Birds of Chicago show at Edmonton’s New Moon Folk Club was to me. The performance was sold out but I never felt overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd. Instead it was as if JT Nero and Allison Russell had invited us into their living room to share some songs, a feeling that began with Ryan Boldt‘s opening set.

Russell and Nero’s approach to life as demonstrated through their music was inspiring. Family and community were at the heart of many of the songs on last night’s two sets. In “Flying Dreams” Nero and Russell shared some hopes for their daughter:

I wish you flying dreams …
I don’t wish you wings …
’Cause if you grow those things, that’s everything
There’s no more dreams
There’s only silence in the night.

While, “Barley (in memory of Isobel Rodger Robertson)” written in memory of Russell’s grandmother was packed with personal resolve:

The wind that shakes the barley will not shake me
The wind that shakes the barley will not shake me
The wind that shakes the barley no it won’t won’t shake me
As my grandma told me this I sew though that I see

The intensity of the show was in part found in the audience’s balance of laughter and tears. In particular Nero had the audience chuckling and relaxing between songs while Russell captivated us with songs like “Kathy” and “Barley“.

To borrow a friend of mine’s words, the evening “was good for the soul.”

If the inclement road conditions kept you from the show last night, you can still get a copy of Birds of Chicago’s latest release, pair it with some wine and keep your eyes on the sky because hopefully these birds will be back with the summer.


New Moon Folk Club’s next show is Tom Russell on Nov. 18, 2016 and is expected to sell out so get your tickets early.

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