CONCERT REVIEW: Szlachetka's Heart Of My Hometown @ Hollywood's Hotel Cafe

Written by Jessica Klausing

 Szlachetka and his band perform at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

 Szlachetka and his band perform at Hotel Cafe. Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Szlachetka (pronounced SLA-HET-KA) is out on tour in support of his new album release, Heart Of My Hometown. Rolling Stone Magazine praised the album citing Szlachetka as a ‘New Country Artist to Know.’ That was evident as many Angelinos packed into the Second Stage venue at Hollywood’s Hotel Café on Wednesday night. The music was Americana roots rock superb, the storytelling honed the heartland spirit, and with the added chemistry of Szlachetka’s full band— it was transcendence into musical nirvana.

The minute Szlachetka crooned into the steel guitar opener “Algebra” the audience knew it was on a heartfelt journey. Bathed in blue stage lights and clad in a button up faded shirt and jeans, Szlachetka exemplified raw emotion and musical prowess. Delicate guitar strums coupled with rich, warm vocals. Electric guitars cranked up for the rock n’ roll road trip anthem, “Ready To Run Again,” forcing everyone up on their feet.

 Szlachetka photo by Jessica Klausing.

 Szlachetka photo by Jessica Klausing.

Szlachetka followed with the titular, “Heart Of My Hometown,” which prompted many cheers from the audience. Szlachetka bids farewell to his home place in route to a new adventure as he sings, “Farewell/ don’t look back just make ‘em proud/ No matter where I go/can’t let go to the heart of my hometown.”

Szlachetka’s talented bandmates had their own time to shine in the set: Dave “Mustang” Lang (organ, keyboards) brought out the funky soul swag in the Ry Cooder cover of “Jesus On the Mainline,” Derek Brown (drums, percussion) and Kurtis Keber (bass) flawlessly held down the rhythm in “Until That Echo,” and Jillinda Palmer (vocals) and Samantha Smith (vocals) harmonized pitch perfectly in “Don’t You Think It’s Time.”

Heartfelt life lessons were shared in the latter half of the set. “Wildflowers On The Highway” teaches us to look for the beautiful things from the uglier parts in life. In light of the untimely death of a close friend, Szlachetka sorrowfully shares the importance to cherish life in “Cheated Time.”

 Szlachetka closes with "Back Into Your Heart." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

 Szlachetka closes with "Back Into Your Heart." Photo by Jessica Klausing.

Closing with the upbeat “Back Into Your Heart” off the Waits For a Storm to Find album, Szlachetka was greeted with blazing smiles and hearty handclaps as the show came to an end.

Szlachetka performs his eclectic twist on the Americana sub genres, bringing together singer-songwriter sentiments, country western, 1970’s California roots rock, and so much more. His songwriting captures plenty of emotional moments on par with legends like Jackson Browne and Jason Isbell. Szlachetka and his band deliver a top notch intimate performance worthy of a big stadium.

Ready To Run Again
Heart Of My Hometown
Jesus On the Mainline (Ry Cooder cover)
Until That Echo
And I See You Now
Don't You Think It's Time
Giving Back The Best Of Me
Wildflowers On The Highway
Ladder To The Stars
Cheated Time
Back Into Your Heart

CONCERT REVIEW: YARN @ NYC's American Beauty

Written by Eric Ruth

Yarn photo by Eric Ruth

Yarn photo by Eric Ruth

My friend Sandi and I made it to the American Beauty after catching a train and trekking through the rain. Side note: The venue's name is taken from the Grateful Dead's first album, American Beauty.

Upon arrival members of the band came over to say hello to me. They all gave me a big hug and asked me how I was doing. Yarn's acoustic guitar player and harmony man Trevor asked me what concerts I've been to lately. We talked about bumping into each other at a Ryan Adams concert. I can't think of any other band, small or famous, who is that nice and down to earth. They genuinely care about you and make you feel welcomed.

After I talked to the band I set up shop. I placed my book bag down on one of the couches which is off to the side of the venue and then wondered around. I got to watch a few innings of the Yankee game on the TVs' in the front bar. The venue is broken into two sections. When you first walk in you have a bar, some tables, and stairs which leads to the free pizza. Every drink comes with a ticket for free pizza. Beyond the bar is a set of doors which leads you to another room with a stage, couches, dancing cages, and another bar. It's a small cozy room with a great sound.

At about a little after nine the lights went down and the house music came to a stop. The opening band Kevin Harrison & True North took the stage. I'll be honest and say I knew very little about them. I sampled one song before the show. They sounded like a cross between The Black Crowes and Rob Thomas. I know that's a weird combo. The guitars were a little Southern Fried Rock mixed with some Rob Thomas vocals.

I only heard Rob on some songs but it was enough of a sample size to take notice. The band had a generic set up with two guitars players, bass, and drums. Nothing special or earth shattering. I perked up when they played a cover of "Midnight Rider" and some song about NYC. Before you know their set was over and the lights came on and the house music began to play.

Ricky B plays the upright bass photo by Sandi Atkinson.

Ricky B plays the upright bass photo by Sandi Atkinson.

Shorty after the opening band was done, Yarn made their way to the stage. They opened with a new unreleased song called "In the Moonlight." It's one of my favorites. Not many people in the crowd other then me knew this song. This fact did not matter because less then a minute into the song everyone was on their feet dancing up a storm.

After that song came to an end the band played "Now You're Gone" off of the band's most recent studio album, This Is The Year. Some bands take a few songs to get warmed up. Not Yarn. They came out swinging from the minute they took the stage. They have so much energy. They literally play like it's their last show on earth.

Yarn's bass player Ricky started out with his long hair tied back in a man bun, but as the night progressed on, his man bun came undone. His long hair started flying everywhere as he thumped on the upright bass. Sweat dripped everywhere! After playing more songs new and old the band had time for one more. They decided to throw out a curve ball. Yarn may be categorized as an Americana band, however, they are so much more. They effortlessly blend classic Country, Folk/Folk Rock, Singalongs, and Jams to create the Yarn sound.

However this curve ball proved that they can also play some 70's Disco. That's right Yarn played a cover of KC and the Sunshine band's "Get Down Tonight." This song got the crowd in a frenzy. The place turned into a disco. Is there anything Yarn can't do? Once the song came to an end the lights came on and the house music began to play one final time. Before leaving the venue the band came over to ask me how I liked the show.

Like a fine wine.... I swear this band gets better with each show. Unlike established bands who have roadies to set up and dismantle the stage Yarn has to do it all. This includes driving their own van and paying for gas and a place to sleep. They don't live in the lap of luxury and they truly do this for the love of the music. After a final goodbye I pulled a flyer off of the wall and headed back home.

Go see Yarn if you ever get the chance. I guarantee you'll have a good time. If not your next drink is on me.


In the Moonlight

Now You're Gone


Heaven in You

Down on your Luck

Bobby Weeks

Music's Only Outlaw


I Let You Down

This is the Year

Long Way To Texas

Bad Bad Man

Strikes and Gutters

Sioux City Gypsy

Turn The Lights Off

I'm the Man

Get Down Tonight (KC and The Sunshine Band Cover)