As May gave way to June, and the weekend rolled around, Team GDW had tickets in hand to our first concert of the new month. Heading out on a glorious sunny Saturday afternoon, we defied convention and pointed the car south, not north, and made our way to Vienna, VA, for an evening with Leif Vollebekk at Jammin’ Java. It is never a difficult decision to stay closer to home when one of Canada’s musicians opts to head down our way, and we knew for certain that we did not want to miss the promotional tour for Leif’s new “Twin Solitude” album.
This was our first concert experience at Jammin’ Java, and I really feel the need to thank both the staff and the venue for putting on a great show. It is always wonderful to find a music venue that offers this kind of family-friendliness, and many big names have graced the stage according to the autographed event posters in the bar. With so many ‘dubious’ night spots out there, this was a very welcome change and we’d return again anytime.
Leif Vollebekk has an incredibly busy tour schedule throughout 2017, with some US dates, then a hop across the pond to Europe, back to Canada for a handful of festivals, and a second return to Europe in the fall. We were certainly grateful that he was able to squeeze VA into his plans, and his performance was certainly very much appreciated by the intimate crowd on Saturday night. With a single solo set, Leif would share twelve tracks with us, six of which were new pieces from “Twin Solitudes.” He would also switch between synthesizer, acoustic and electric guitars, and even took advantage of Jammin’ Javas’ resident upright piano.
Opening his set seated at his synthesizer(s), Leif would launch immediately into the new tracks “Vancouver Time” and “All night sedans”. Between these tracks he would announce that this was his first time in Vienna, VA, which prompted tales of time spent in the ‘real’ Vienna, where he recalled playing “an anarchist gig…where the catering was bad, but the vibe was good.” Ah, quirky commentary – we knew we were in for a good night with Leif.
After two more tracks seated at the synthesizer and upright piano, Leif would switch to the acoustic guitar for “Michigan,” before performing an eight minute cover version of Bob Dylan’s “Mama you been on my mind.” Another new track “Telluride” would follow, before his return to the keyboards for the popular “Photographer Friend.” Sharing sentiments about being saddened by the death of Prince, he would launch into an outstanding rendition of the lesser known Prince track, “How come you don’t call me anymore?” Leif was certainly happy to share that one of his bucket list items was fulfilled when he saw Prince perform a piano-based show live in Montreal just a few weeks before the news of his death was announced.
Remaining at the synthesizer, he would delight us with “Elegy,” one of the feature tracks from the new album, before wrapping up with a return to the electric guitar for “East of Eden.” And with a quick thanks to the crowd, Leif exited the stage, and the lights came up to indicate that the show was over. While we quickly appreciated that his quirkiness is part of his theatrics, the combination of his raw musical ability and cutting-edge style certainly demonstrated why his popularity continues to grow.
As is customary for Team GDW, we chose to stick around for a short while after the show, and had the pleasure to meet with Leif, who was more than happy to make himself available to those still in attendance. We certainly took the opportunity to thank him for making this stop, and for sharing his music and tales from the road with us. If you are looking to become familiar with the music of Leif Vollebekk, the new CD is probably a good place to start, although we actively encourage you to go ahead and explore all three of his albums, and try to catch him live too. Leif is absolutely welcome back down here in our neck of the woods anytime.
- Vancouver time
- All night sedans
- From the forth
- *Unknown Title* – New track
- Off the main drag
- Mama you been on my mind (Bob Dylan cover)
- Photographer friend
- How come you don’t call me anymore (Prince cover)
- East of Eden