Monday, November 24, 2008

Show Review: The Tender Fruit

Nightlight, Chapel Hill
November 22, 2008

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There are two types of hooks in rock and roll. Most songs I profess my love to hook me with the vocal melody whose writer likely invested the better part of their sanity weaving vocals with chords and alcohol until the pattern of a hook appeared. Friday evening however, as I walked the dark ally which serves gateway to Nightlight, my mind was on the more elusive and enduring of the two, a hook born solemnly and singularly from instrument, and there is no better example than the knuckling lull of the Tender Fruit's "The Truth Is" guitar lick which was playing in my head as I stepped through the doorway.

Recently introduced to The Tender Fruit during a normal morning routine of perusing show schedules over coffee and listening to myspace profiles of any that I had not become familiar with, and my reaction to their music was chemical. The attraction was not unlike the first time I heard "Wish You Were here" or "Mary Jane’s Last Dance," attention lifted to entirely foreign yet eagerly agreeable notes resonating as they scribed to my mind. Sometimes you hear a song and a voice and you just know.

So with expectations stacked high from adoration of the few songs posted on their myspace profile I sipped my PBR and mused at the commotion of one band tearing down and another setting up while fending off the lingering question, "would their live show live up?" Answers came quickly as their first song, "Would You Know Your Lover," eased its way into our ears, my expectations given away in favor something more, something unintended. Not only was this a powerful and inspiring live performance but it coursed to an intimate and endearing quality that reached far beyond "a faithful reproduction" and touched on a fleeting uniqueness, exclusive and profound. Those fortunate enough to be huddled on chairs and couches to witness it found themselves on an emotional coaster ride, responding with grins and giggles to lead singer Christy Smith's innocent and girlish flirting on the mic’ between songs and with jaw drooping wonder as her meanderingly soulful voice strummed our heart strings during them.

Each song's performance molded differently from the last invited an engaging ensemble for the eyes as well as the ears. Watching the mechanized coordination of Staci Sawyer and Josiah Drewry sitting side by side both swinging sticks at a single set of drums and seeing Christy's purely acoustic guitar ring clearly and loudly over drums and amplified vocals demonstrated the creativity of a rock group that is making up their own rules. As hearts fell one by one for the sad songs that made us happy, it became clear that The Tender Fruit are a tremendously talented folk rock group with a welcome home in Durham's brimming music scene.

The Tender Fruit's next Durham show will be at The Pinhook on December 19th, 2008 alongside local folk group Midtown Dickens.

visit their profiles: virb myspace profile


  1. "Mr" Blair,
    Your academic approach to music reminds me of reading a magazine about a Ferrari. Yes, you can learn a lot about it but it simply isn't the same.

    Obviously you can take it, or leave it, or tell me to go bang myself, but my suggestion is this...

    Dress up like the musical ninja and perform an interpretative re-enactment of each show you critique. I'm not talking about copying the performance and the performers, I'm talking about an entirely new genre, that of the "Ridiculous Online Interpretative Music Review". You can own this genre my friend.

    Think about it:
    Your Talent
    + Your Ninja Costume
    + Your dashing good looks
    + Viral Video
    + A dash of rediculous
    + A cheap digital video camera
    + Owning your own genre
    = Success'O-Matic

    Good luck and let me know when the first video is up so I can start spreading the good news.

  2. is it possible to digg just a blog comment? Cause this one has staying power...