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Southern Accents: Birds and Arrows, Mark McKay, June Star, and Jason and the Butchers, Sept. 24 at the Windup Space

September 28, 2010

Last May, the Chapel Hill band Birds and Arrows made an instant fan out of me with a show at the Metro Gallery, previewing material from the great album Starmaker that was released a few months later. So when the husband and wife duo of Pete and Andrea Connolly returned to Baltimore for a show at the Windup Space, I was hoping to hear the songs from that album again.

Instead, Birds and Arrows, now filled out to a trio with cellist Josh Starmer giving their live sound a bit more texture and low end, filled their set with unreleased songs once again, from a new album they’re heading into the studio to record soon. And while it would’ve been nice to hear more from Starmaker than just the closing song of the set, “Picnic In the Graveyard,” it’s hard to complain about hearing exciting new tunes such as “Arrows” and “Mountain Air.” The band members wore some kind of tribal warpaint on their faces, which looked somewhat at odds with their relaxed, rustic sound, but that didn’t detract from the charms of Andrea Connolly’s soothing voice and intoxicating melodies, or Pete Connolly’s subtle drumming and complementary harmonies.

Birds and Arrows were well matched with some other twangy, rootsy local acts, but some of them were a bit less impressive. Singer/songwriter Mark McKay sounded kind of like Dylan—the crappy one from the Wallflowers—and his lyrics were a repetitive minefield of inane clichés. At least his backing band sounded pretty good.

The next band, June Star, was a breath of fresh air just for being pleasant and having some nice guitar leads. And as the night wore on and the show stretched toward 2 a.m., I wasn’t up for staying to see the last band, the great Among Wolves, since I’d seen them play a killer set during the BiMA festival a month earlier. But I caught a few songs by the Among Wolves offshoot Jason and the Butchers, who were themselves pretty impressive with catchy songs and some gorgeous pedal steel guitar work.

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  • andrew grimm

    hey al, thanks for the kind words about june star… you know… this is the first time in 9 years we’ve received a review from the city paper… we’ll be releasing a new album Oct. 26th and our CD release show is Nov. 6th @ the creative alliance… hope to see anyone there.