The Wiyos at CFP Community Hall



The ambiance at Common Fence Point Community Hall was warm and inviting. Between the bright yellow paint of the walls, the smell of many, many different spreads of foods being laid out, the Cajun and bluegrass music blaring from the speakers before the start of the show, and the buzz of friends talking to each other about their day (or perhaps making new friends), I was perfectly content to sit there absorbing the wonderful energy of the place and the people in it. They really get what all the things associated with old-timey music – love, family, food, gratitude – are about. I’m not trying to be over dramatic when I say this, but I have a renewed sense of hope in humankind because of the people at CFP.

Common Fence Point Community Hall is, as the name states, a community hall in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It’s a moderately sized space, with rows of table and chairs set up from wall to wall. They host many concerts there, and the people who attend bring picnic baskets and coolers filled with food, beverages (which include wine, beer, and in some cases, whiskey), and desserts. The doors open one hour before each show, and everyone files in to eat dinner and pass the time until the start of whichever concert it is that they’re at. CFP Hall is exactly where I found myself on Saturday night, for a concert by The Wiyos. The band played there back in March of last year, and I attended that show as well. It was so much fun the first time that I decided I simply had to return, especially to see The Wiyos there again! It might just be my favorite place I’ve ever seen the band, and I’ve seen them in quite a number of venues. I was alive with anticipation on Saturday as I waited for the musicians to take the stage, and the few seconds before they did were both the best and the worst. The best because I was excited about what was to come shortly, the worst because I wanted it to come already! Finally the music started, and what glorious music it was. The opening song of the evening, “Blue Drag”, immediately eased my tension. If only all problems were resolved so easily… Michael’s harmonica playing is so clear, and he has a distinct style all his own. His vocals are extraordinary, in range, tone, and texture, and when he sang “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You” (of which Joe stated, “I’m not sure if this is a sweet love song, or a creepy stalker song”), Michael’s voice simply hypnotized the audience as it washed over them in a velvety fog. The rest of the musicians were in incredible form as well, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the band sound better. I say that every time I see them, I know, but I mean it. I might have to stop going to Wiyos concerts… They’re almost too good I can’t bear it! I’m afraid my heart might burst with joy one of these days. Okay that’s a lie. Not that my heart might burst from joy (still a concern), but that I’d stop going to see The Wiyos. I could never do that. In all seriousness, I almost started crying during Saturday’s show, because they sounded so good and I was just so happy. Granted, music moves me more deeply than some people, but The Wiyos’ music had that effect on me all the same. They’re in a constant state of evolution, and you can hear how their sound has stretched and shaped itself over the years. I am really liking the new direction their music is heading… They’ve been re-working some of their earlier songs, and those – as well as the new ones they’ve written – are, for lack of a better word, a bit darker. Not dark as in, you know, heavy metal/goth dark, but more blues, with a slight punk edge you might say, all the while staying true to their roots. The Wiyos are just reawakening their original musical vision in a slightly different way. It’s kind of hard to describe the artistic process they’re in the midst of, and transformation is much too strong a word to use, but there’s definitely a change that can be heard. Their new stuff is slightly more subdued, but startlingly dramatic in it’s understated form. I am extremely excited to hear their new album which is due out within the next few months, and was happy to hear them play one of the songs off it which I’m particularly fond of, called “Promenade.” That’s a tune the band said is going to be, “One of our radio hits. We’ve discovered that the combination of banjo, harmonica, and E flat horn is going to take us top of the charts”, which everyone in the audience chuckled at. Joe later had an epiphany, joking, “That’s it! After all this time, I finally figured out how to describe our music! ‘American Unpopular!’ ” There is, sadly, some truth to that statement, but it’s America’s loss if they don’t appreciate what The Wiyos are doing. And what they do is not just some novelty act, folks. They’ve got more depth than the ocean. Saturday’s concert was exceptional, and I’m grateful to have been part of such a wonderful night, it was truly an honor. I can’t think of a better place, a better crowd, or a better band. Okay, so I’m just glad my heart is still intact and didn’t burst (yet)… We’ll see if it’s still functioning properly in two weeks; I’ll be seeing The Wiyos again on April 18th.

Videos from Saturday’s concert:

Blue Drag

Promenade

Silver Spoon

I’ll Think Of You

Uncork The Whiskey

Tennessee Tango

I Had Someone Else Before I Had You (And I’ll Have Someone After You’re Gone)

Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone / Has Anybody Seen My Gal

  

  

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