If you guys haven’t been to The Crux, I’d totally recommend it. It’s a pretty chill place, lots of local talent stop by and show their skills, and they are one of (if not the only) coffee shops that also serves beer! What more could you ask for?
Oh, I know. How about a contest between some of Boise’s best local musicians? Tonight we got to see four of Boise’s best singers and songwriters battle it out for a chance to win five free hours of recording time with Tonic Room Recording and Mastering Studios. What more incentive would a musician need to join in? Sadly, we didn’t get to see everyone who had participated in this entire event, but we did get to see the four finalists perform to the best of their abilities so we really can’t complain.
First on stage, the epic Joseph Lyle. Joseph was one of the winners of the January Singer-Songwriter competition, tying with Lee Penn Sky. Right off the bat after getting on stage, he showed us just how talented he is at the guitar, fingers flying everywhere and notes seemingly appearing just out of thin air. Along with the fingering skills on guitar, this guy can sing! Combine those two and you’ve got one amazing performer.
Lyle’s songwriting skills showed a lot of vastness and variety, ranging from lyrically strong and passionate ballads to soft, yet intense, and extreme instrumentals. Joseph Lyle definitely earned his spot among the other performers of the night.
February’s contest winner, Mack Lantz came up next on stage and showed us a handful of his original music, the variety of which was astounding. Songs about the blues, one pretty Taylor Swift-esque song, and a whole lot of ballads made up his set tonight. Lantz loves to tell a story through his music, one of them dealing with wanting to change what he sees is wrong with the world (‘Revolution Song’). You can absolutely feel the passion and emotions he portrays in each of them. Another thing that made Lantz stand out against the other performers was his switching from guitar to the keyboard halfway through his set, showing a diverse set of skills with instruments as well as songwriting.
Third in line was Jonathan Warren. Warren and his epic beard was accompanied by a fellow band member (Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats) on the cello while he rocked it on the guitar AND harmonica, being the only entry that wasn’t a solo act. Definitely a crowd pleaser, Warren’s strong vocals and guitar playing positively contrasted alongside his partner’s own vocals and cello sounds. The balance and teamwork between these two was absolutely perfect. One of the more colorful songwriters in the finale, everyone in the coffee shop enjoyed his performance (especially the song about leaving flowers at a girl’s doorstep…next to another guy’s shoes).
Our last performer in the finale, Lee Penn Sky showed everyone how he managed to tie with Joseph Lyle on stage with his variety of folk originals. Another combination of vocals, guitar and harmonica, Sky’s set included songs about hookers in Denver, love songs for his wife, and hate songs about being in love (hopefully not about his wife). A soulful writer, the inclusion of the harmonica in his songs (much more prevalent than Warren’s set) helped portray the exact emotion of each song and he manages to combine it wonderfully with his own vocals and guitar playing making his performance just as unique as his competitors.
Before the winner of the competition was announced, The Crux had a special appearance by the Washington folk band Br’er Rabbit. Originally of Bellingham, WA, the group stopped by Boise during their coast to coast tour and gave us a taste of their own unique sound before and after the winner was announced. These guys had a very interesting instrumentation for their band: cello, ukulele/mandolin, guitar/banjo, guitar/kick bass and drum/harmonica. The vocals between the three singers of the group worked quite well with each other, and their songs were just as amazing. Definitely a group you’ll want to keep track of, I know I am going to!
As I said above, the winner of the Singer-Songwriter Finale will earn 5 free hours of studio time with Tonic Room Recording and Mastering Studios, and the lucky musician who won the grand prize was…MACK LANTZ!
All four performers definitely deserved their own chance at the prize, yet the audience felt that Lantz deserved that honor, but that doesn’t mean that these guys have lost their chance. The Crux holds their Singer-Songwriter competitions every month (courtesy of Ten Gallon Cat, check them out on FaceBook) and open mic nights every Monday night as well, so if you guys want to see some local musicians here in Boise for free (or not, depending on the show), The Crux is definitely the place to find them!
Photos by Nic Coutts