Underneath the Whitehurst Freeway near the Key Bridge leading from Georgetown to Arlington, VA in the greater Washington DC metro area is Gypsy Sally’s, a three year old club with a nearly perfect set-up. There are tables on a raised floor where people can sit to watch, listen, eat and drink; but there’s also a lower bar and good sized dance floor for fans to stand, move, drink, dance and get close to the band. The sound is great everywhere you are and it’s never painfully loud but it’s no demure listening room either. If you’re not familiar with Georgetown, and you’re driving, allow yourself time to get there because your GPS will absolutely lead you astray — it’s on Water Street running underneath the freeway. However, we only need to say this one time, because once you get there you’re guaranteed to want to return and the next time you’ll know your way.
Last Saturday night Sarah Borges was in town with a monster manifestation of her band “the Broken Singles” — Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (producer and guitar player extraordinaire) with Keith Voegele and Mark Ortmann, the rhythm section from the Bottle Rockets (who performed next — for our separate write up on that show, click one of these bolded words right here.) This was part of the album release tour in support of Borges’ album Love’s Middle Name produced by Ambel and released on Blue Corn Records. (The Bottle Rockets cd, also produced by Ambel, was released the same day on Bloodshot.) For our review of Borges album, look here: REVIEW: Sarah Borges’ “Love’s Middle Name” Will Rock Your Heartache Away
The band was in that relaxed state that comes a week into the flow of the tour and Borges was joking with the crowd; she has an wry, easy rapport with people and had them laughing at the end of each song as she acted out different ways of indicating a song had ended.
They played songs from the new album: “House On A Hill,” “Lucky Rocks,” Frankie Miller’s “I Can’t Change It,” and the fast paced duet with Ambel: “Get as Gone Can Get.” There was one of Borges’ signature covers, J. Giels’ “Cry One More Time,” and “Tendency to Riot” and “Caught By the Rain from Good and Dirty EP; and “Daniel Lee,” from Borges’ earlier album Silver City.
There were some songs by Ambel in the mix like “Loose Talk,” a Carl Smith song Ambel has notably covered (with Syd Straw) on Roscoe’s Gang (produced by Lou Whitney), “Massive Confusion” (from the album Lakeside) written by Jimbo Mathus, and “Song For the Walls” from Loud & Lonesome.
The vocal duets (“Get as Gone Can Get” and “Loose Talk”) were a real treat, showcasing the kind of vocal delivery that clearly took some effort; that kind of natural back and forth can only succeed with a combination of skill and practice, and it showed in the result. People cheered like crazy when each song ended.
Playing a pair of Stonetree custom guitars, the guitar duo blasted out dirty, custom rock ‘n roll sounds while the rhythms were commanding and grooving all at the same time. It’s nice when rock ‘n roll like this can still move people with original hooks and memorable melodies, demonstrating rock ‘n roll’s enduring timelessness.
After the show was over and the dancing, sadly, had to stop, there was a long, long line at the merch table, which Borges had jokingly referred to as the merch closet. Both Borges and Ambel had some cute, truly wearable t-shirts for sale in addition to their music — Borges’ was sporting old school tattoo images with a raven and a heart; and Ambel’s was a hand drawn (by Ambel) likeness of the Urie 1178 stereo compressor he uses in his studio. Long time and new fans alike were lined up taking selfies with the band and it was clearly a great Thursday night for all involved.
For Sarah Borges music and tour dates, look here: www.sarahborges.com
For Eric Ambel music and tour dates, see right here: www.ericambel.com
For our interview with Sarah Borges, click here: Interview: Sarah Borges on Album “Love’s Middle Name,” Emotional Vulnerability Wrapped in a Rock ‘n Roll Package