March 8, 2016

ITHACA A-LIVE | Cayuga’s Lodge X3

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On March 5th, this past Saturday, Cayuga Lodge at 630 Stewart Avenue hosted yet another gig. The night featured Modern Hut of Ithaca, Marian McLaughlin – 3 piece experimental folk band of Baltimore, DC and Buffalo origins, and Cornell University’s own  _____.

A co-founder of Don Giovanni Records in New Brunswick, NJ, Modern Hut singer and songwriter Joe Steinhardt graced us with his presence yet again at Cayuga Lodge. He opened the night with his unique brand of melancholy humour. Despite the disappointing early evening turnout, he was up to his usual shenanigans: drinking and singing, whining and joking with a cool, removed voice. Although you might get the impression that he doesn’t care about himself, you won’t get the impression that he doesn’t care about the crowd. He always appreciates those who come to hear his songs with his in-character performance. Simultaneously depressing and hilarious, one of his tunes, which he called a “novelty” song, had me in absolute TEARS laughing. The sarcastic, biting comments in his lyrics and inter-song-banter express honest observations about modern society. We hope he will return to The Lodge in the future.

Modern Hut has another gig this Friday! See deets at the end of today’s post.

Following Modern Hut was Marian McLaughlin – totally idiosyncratic and absolutely beautiful. The trio of serious musicians stunned their growing audience with their experimental folk music. The fantastical songs were written by McLaughlin, who sings with a unique, ethereal voice while plucking her folk guitar. Her simple part grounded the fantastical string arrangements behind her written by double bassist, the brooding Ethan Foote. They were joined by the exceptionally talented Katie Weissman on cello. McLaughlin’s imaginative lyrics and Foote’s stunning arrangements evoked a dream-like fantasy. We couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear as we observed the cinematic performance.  It was a stroke of luck that they stopped by Ithaca.

All three are seriously talented musicians, and their modern-classical-fantasy folk style seems courageous. There were some interesting manipulations of their strings that sounded like whines or moans, which had some of the crowd-members looking around in confusion. Some fantastical imagery in the lyrics involving Gandalf and wildebeests evoked similar reactions. Nonetheless, the virgin audience had no trouble hearing the beauty in their unpretentious music and responded with rousing applauses.

The band-members were also very welcoming, grounded, friendly and grateful people. They spent the night at The Lodge, and their willingness to speak about their music, experiences and adventures proved to be a joy for all living there. They have been playing together for only about a year, but all have clearly extensive backgrounds with their instruments and sounded as if they had been playing together for much longer. They performed beautifully, and we are so grateful they stopped in on their tour. They were only taking donations instead of charging a specific fee, and we wanted to support them to the best of our abilities. I (Ailis) ended up buying both albums they offered and cannot wait to share their music.  It really spoke to and moved me. It was a performance I will never forget.

The final performers were _____ – a duo of VERY talented Cornell undergrads, Brad Nathanson and Carsten Thue-Bludworth.  Their performance was bursting with energy and life. Thue-Bludworth’s shirtless drumming impressed us with quick rhythm changes that were so varied, creative and, most importantly, easy to dance to. Nathanson’s joyful guitar playing electrified the crowd. The two mostly improvised, feeding off each other’s energy and creativity. They were even able to switch instrumental roles. It was like being in an OkGo music video: the M.O. was fun. They clearly wanted everyone to have a good time and appeared to have a fantastic time themselves. They even handed out blindfolds before the show, turning the audience into a bumbling mess as everyone danced like fools. The room was all smiles. It was amazing. So much fun. I (Ailis) danced until I could no longer stand on my bum ankle because I just couldn’t help myself: their music made me move.

We hope they will soon be playing for another great dance party in the basement of The Lodge again.

They have some music on the bandcamp link below –  don’t miss them if you hear they are playing! Their improvisational live performances are one-of-a-kind and not to be missed.

Up next – Tuesday’s traditional Irish music night at Ruloff’s (also offering $1 tall boys of PBR for the ladies!). Then, this Friday at 116 Cook,  Long Beard, Fraternal Twin, Shore Acres Drive and Modern Hut will perform at 9pm!

Ailis is a junior from New Jersey studying environmental science and sustainability.  If you can’t find her at a pub she’s probably playing guitar in her PJs or writing anything and everything down in tiny notebooks. She can be reached at [email protected].

Olivia is a junior studying film in the college of Arts and Sciences. She was born and raised in the teeny tiny fishing town of Soldotna, Alaska. When she’s not frolicking around outside, she can be found watching cartoons or drinking tea in her catbug onesie. She can be reached at [email protected].