The Autumn Defense at The Beachland Tavern

John Stirratt and Pat Sansone with The Autumn Defense at the Beachland Tavern (photo by Shan)

I attended another live show this weekend, The Autumn Defense, the side project (but every bit of a full production as any band) of two members of Wilco, John Stirratt and Pat Sansone. They played at the snug little Beachland Tavern in my neck of the woods, so no cross country trip necessary this time. The show started off with a short but lovely set by Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. Silly me, I didn’t hear Sarah Lee’s last name last night at the show, and it was only after looking further into it today did I discover and realize that, yes, she is that kind of Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter, and the daughter of Arlo. She’s got an incredible voice and while harmonizing with Johnny it was hard to pick out where one voice ended and the other began.

As for The Autumn Defense, the last time they came around I had plans to see them in Philadelphia, but ended up with the flu so it never happened, but last night’s performance made up for it all. From the start the audience was in very capable hands indeed, and it was nice to see John and Pat step out from behind Wilco and to be able to really focus on their musicianship. Material from their first album, The Green Hour, their second (and my favorite) release Circles, all the way through their just released Once Around (possibly rivaling Circles) was played. It was a night of vocal perfection as Stirratt and Sansone possess a lock and key aspect to their voices complimenting one another so thoroughly and beautifully. The set started off with the smooth, mellow acoustic sounds that define The Autumn Defense, but by the end of the set and during the encore the energy level rose to the same fever pitch that I have experienced at so many Wilco shows. I was also pleased to see a familiar face on the drums, G Wiz, who I last saw drumming with Joseph Arthur and The Lonely Astronauts in Akron on Halloween in 2008, though I didn’t recognize him until he was introduced as last time he was dressed in a get up that looked something straight out of Hilarious House of Frightenstein. T’was a fantastic evening. The Autumn Defense will be touring around the east coast for the next month so if you have an inkling to catch them, do!

That’s all for ze moment.

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