https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/DSCF0958.jpg 1223 2032 Jennifer https://clarkeva.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Clarke-Nameplate3-1024x320.jpg Jennifer2018-02-19 13:04:592018-02-19 13:08:21The Bitter Liberals at Bright Box Theatre in Old Town Winchester
Out + About in Winchester
By Keith Patterson
The excitement in the sold-out room was palpable. The “palp” in the air on this night was about the Bitter Liberals, who, after several successful years performing and recording as a four-piece with two guitars, a fiddle and a percussionist, played their first live show as a five-piece, including a bass player and a drummer on a full kit.
The Bitter Liberals have played at Bright Box Theatre multiple times, and have always drawn a crowd, so it was no real surprise that it was a packed house again. Clearly, for many in the crowd it was their first “Bitter” experience. These new fans quickly caught the buzz — they gobbled up advance tickets and left many Bitter Liberals groupies turned away at the door.
The opening act was a young Japanese solo guitarist, Hiroya Tsukamoto. His music incorporated classic Japanese melodies and textures with strong, Western rhythms and verse/chorus arrangements. He expertly utilized loop stations on both his guitar and vocals to create lush, evocative soundscapes worthy of an ensemble. The full-house was very appreciative and warmed-up for the headliners.
The Bitter Liberals are still co-fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarists Allen Kitselman and Clark Hansbarger. And Gary McGraw remains the ace-in the-hole sideman fiddler. These three players have developed a deep chemistry, and their playing together is a real joy. The new rhythm section, Michael Rohrer on bass and Nick Shrenk on drums, enhanced the nuanced sound of the band and played without a hitch. In fact, the more pronounced rhythms laid out a structure that really showcased the harmonies, melodies and solos of the featured players.
Allen Kitselman is a tone-hound, and when he plays guitar he produces some sweet sounds rooted in rock ‘n roll. Clark Hansbarger has more of a blues sensibility in his playing. And Gary McGraw, the classically trained hillbilly/Mozart fiddle player, generally just tears it up.
The Bitter Liberals mixed some outstanding new material into their strong set of mostly original songs. It is deep, evocative, emotional music. People in the audience laugh and cry as the lyrics and shared experiences hit home through the shimmer and jangle of well-played and inspired rock n’ roll.
This band is always on my radar for a live show and the Bright Box Theatre is a great venue to see them play. You can also get a meal and drinks and the wait staff is helpful and friendly. Never mind the cold, pouring rain outside. It was warm and rocking inside. Stay bitter, my friends!
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