December 3, 2008 | 6:53am
'Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and I found myself at Forest Room 5, where several local filmmakers were screening their works, a friend and local artist named Claudine Rousseau had hung her poignant and pint-sized paintings, and Mike Marchant of Widowers was performing a solo set.
It was a study in contrasts. While the front room maintained the air of crowded chaos that makes the bar nearly impassable on the weekends, the back rooms felt like some kind of Paris salon, but with more beer and thrift-store fashion. I hadn't felt such an air of artistic abandon and creativity since Winwear's Duos event
, almost nine months ago.
But if the atmosphere itself was intoxicating, Mike Marchant's otherworldly acoustic performance was absinthe. Since the back room of the bar lacked a proper PA, Marchant had to make do with a single microphone for both guitar and vocals. As he launched into a set drawn mostly from his forthcoming solo release, the fresh-faced songwriter encouraged the intimate crowd to gather, cross-legged, on the floor in front of him. Though only a few admiring young women obeyed, the performance still took on the feel of a campfire gathering.
Alone or with his band, Marchant brings together beautifully memorable melodies and unusual lyrics with delicate phrasing and a soft-yet-weathered voice that feels like a new lover whispering fresh secrets in your ear. The unusual setting worked perfectly to highlight his increasingly satisfying psych-pop songwriting. Keep your ears peeled for the release of his new CD in January 2009
. -- Eryc Eyl