Tuesday night was a chilly rainy night in Atlanta but inside Grocery on Home things were warm and cozy as Aaron Lee Tasjan & Shelby Earl treated the intimate crowd to a very personable performance. Grocery is no ordinary music venue; it is a living room complete with sofas, coffee tables, comfy chairs and a large dining table. People of all walks gather bringing along drinks and snacks as they hunker down to enjoy the music. On this night there was a lot to enjoy.
Aaron Lee Tasjan (ALT) is a man that has done it all. He has worked with an endless list of artist some you know some you don’t. His guitar, songwriting and production skills are highly sought out, but where he is at his best is when he is doing it for himself. Through multiple incarnations ALT has delivered some of the best tunes about girls, drugs and his take on life that nobody has heard. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a wealth of songs and his witty repartee the folks at Grocery were treated to one hell of a show Tuesday night at Grocery. His acoustic set was the perfect mix of his old songs, material from his upcoming album Crooked River Burning due out in April and a couple and brilliantly pulled off covers. He opened with “Sweet Angel” from the album Hard Love and Free Luck and the stripped down acoustic version shows the song in an entirely different light. Other tunes such as “You Ain’t Never Gonna Dance Like Me” and “Ohio, My Dear” sounded incredible and when he broke into the “Streets of Galilee” the place was mesmerized. New songs such as “Don’t Walk Away” and “66 Dollar Blues” created a want for the record and he rearranged Kevn Kinney’s “Dirty Angel” to make it his own. He closed out the night calling Shelby Earl out on stage for a mind numbing rendition of Ryan Adams “Two”, a fitting end to the night. As ALT weaves tales and creates a banter with the audience it is obvious the influence the likes of Kevn Kinney, Todd Snider and John Prine have had on him. He brings the audience into the show with tales of his life and experiences that folks can relate to. Setting up songs with stories of sneaking empty beers out of the house, regaling the back story of a bank robbing Jesus worshiping folk singer or divulging his experience at a Ted Nugent concert makes the songs that much better. I have seen ALT live a few times in different setting and each time I have left impressed.
Sharing the stage with ALT was Seattle singer/songwriter Shelby Earl. Sparse acoustic guitar complimented her beautiful vocals as she treated the room to a set list loaded with tunes from her latest record Swift Arrows. Each note was drenched in emotion as she belted out sad song after sad song. Her music may be sad but much like Jason Isbell’s it is not depressing. Songs like “We Will Die” and “Swift Arrows” kept the crowd hanging on her every word and when she interacted with them it was as if she were talking to a room full of friends. This was my first taste of Shelby’s music and after Tuesday night I am hooked.
This was my first show at Grocery on Home and I was quite impressed with the set up, the acoustics and the management of the night. The music took care of itself but the behavior of the people there was incredible. Everyone gave 100% attention to the musicians and there was no talking about their day or chatting about their weekend while the music was being played. Between Aaron, Shelby and the atmosphere of Grocery Tuesday night’s show was rivaled by few.