Doug Perkins and Jamie Masefield
The Double E Performance Center
Essex Junction, VT
April 10, 2019
It's a fairly safe bet that every music lover knows at least one artist who toils in obscurity, relative or otherwise, at various levels, local and otherwise. The altitude of the profile(s) in question may be grounded in self-promotion, ambition or both, but regardless, it can be as frustrating as it is joyful to relish work that deserves a wide(r) audience and doesn't have it.
Apart from a residency in February of this year at The Skinny Pancake restaurant (with bassist Tyler Bolles), and a short set prior to Twisted Pine at Club Metronome, above Nectar's in Burlington last autumn, this opening slot for David Bromberg at The Double E Performance Center may have been the first appearance of note for by Doug Perkins and Jamie Masefield. And while it was gratifying in itself to see the duo perform in front of a comparatively large audience, the attendees were notably reserved during the early stretch of the period when these two musicians occupied the stage. Amusingly, they became almost overly noisy after the mandolinist commented on their collective circumspection.
The Dolby sound system in place for the T-Rex Theater (The Essex 10 Cinemas' home to 3D films when not hosting live music) certainly did justice to the pristine clarity of the Perkins/Masefield interplay. Nevertheless, in a measure of their innate chemistry (and no doubt some preparatory rehearsal), the transitions from rhythmic accompaniment to carefully picked lead playing remained virtually imperceptible right from the opening number of the guitarist's "Strawberry Moon." Such transparency was an uncanny reminder of not only how difficult it is for musicians to play well together, but how effortlessly these men make it look.
By the point the pair approached Perkins' "Garlic Patch Rag," they were fully warmed up for the set's upbeat tenor via the mid-tempo likes of the gospel tune "I Am A Pilgrim," a fiddle traditional "Chinquapin Hunting," and Masefield's cryptically-titled original, "Bromeliad." And while the sparse simplicity of the material more often than not belied the intricacy of the duo's interplay, the music attained a lush quality by the time they romped their way through "Devil's Dream."
A warm breezy air emanated from the stage during much of the slightly less-than-an-hour set, and it was never more palpable than during those moments and the closing of "Hamhock." Nor was the progressively visceral thrust of Masefield and Perkins' interactions; while there was never a sense of additional instruments missingon the contrary, with eyes closed it might've sounded like four or more musiciansit was impossible not to imagine a performance like this as an intro to a headlining set by this twosome, where the drums and other instruments in place for top of the bill artist, David Bromberg
, would come into play (literally) later in the evening.
So, while the days of the Jazz Mandolin Project (conceived with just such a full complement of instrumentation) may be far in the past, Perkins/Masefield presentations such as this April 10 performance still whet the appetite for more regular and extended concerts.
This newly-launched venue might well make a habit of offering intros and outros of the performers, as much for the sake of recognizing such stalwart efforts, but also to inform concertgoers, like the lady in the lobby who didn't catch the artists' names. No doubt she was not the only individual present that night who'd understandably and rightfully want to seek them out in the future, wherever and whenever they play.