It’s the second time I’ve made it to New York City in my life, but only the first time I’ve been the legal age to rip up the local watering holes. The Branded Saloon is a sweet little venue in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, dubbed the “best not-quite-gay-but-almost-gay bar” by Time Out New York, home to the Queer Country Quarterly hosted by Karen Pittleman (of Karen & the Sorrows) and the final stop on Saturday’s itinerary. Some of the best in the US were set to perform a sold-out show, and I was in for a real treat.
Karen & the Sorrows from Brooklyn, NY opened up the night with a dreamy, melancholy sound. Think the ghost of Kitty Wells, but sweeter. Something you’d want to throw on while you’re having a bubble bath on a rainy day. Or when you’re colluding with the fae. Whatever you’re doing, it’s like honey to the ears.
Following The Sorrows would be The Secret Emchy Society. With Cindy Emch from Oakland, CA and Tolan McNeil from Victoria Canada, the band made the pilgrimage to play their east coast debut. The Secret Emchy Society delivers on the infectious hooks of Americana gone dark, and Cindy’s rich, contralto voice carries you through stories of good booze and bad choices. Tolan took the lead on guitar with most songs and absolutely nailed it with a tuning peg solo. Armed only with two guitars and their vocal chords, the duo played a rip-roaring show that truly left an impact on the audience. They played a good mix of older songs from previous bands as well as stuff from their first album, The Stars Fall Shooting into Twangsville, and their upcoming “campfire covers” album Mark’s Yard. Be sure to keep an eye and an ear out for it, as it’ll be available in December 2018.
Viva DeConcini, a rock’n’roll country diva living in NYC, finished off the affair with her good looks and catchy hooks. Her rhinestone get-up sparkled in the spotlight and she charmed us from start to finish with both her music and her flashy onstage presence. If you ever wished Freddie Mercury and Dolly Parton had a lesbian godchild, then you best check out Viva.
After such a fantastic show, you can bet your buttons I’ll be saving up to fly back to New York. Let’s just hope it’s sooner rather than later. Gay Ole Opry, here I come!