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Review: The Grecian Urns usher in a wholesome new year at New World Brewery




To skew a Ray Davies lyric, it was chilly, chilly in the evening time at New World Brewery Friday night, but the Grecian Urns warmed a grateful crowd with their multitudinously multi-instrumental avant-folk pop.

Seldom do local bands pull off such a smile-inducing, body-moving, exuberant set. The young Pinellas collective offered forth spot-on harmonies, deliciously textured arrangements and guest performances by the Sun Society’s Kathleen and Shaundra McGuire, teen siblings of members in the collective, along with 23-year-old Kendall McGuire on violins.

How did the Urns manage an extensive lineup on New World’s relatively small stage?

"Our sisters played strings (cello, violin, viola) with us, as the Sibling Strings," said singer-guitarist Bryce McGuire, who sings and looks a little like a younger Andrew Bird.

"Shaundra also played saxophone, something we’ve never tried before. I loved it; that kid’s a musical saint. Both Shaundra and Kathleen sang on the gang vocal jams like Lovedream and California Diamonds."

Audience members all ages commented to their friends in disbelief, saying, "Who is this?"

Highlights of the performance included a cover of The Weight by the Band with a deft tradeoff on vocals and the audience-participation-enhanced Breezy Bayou, which had fans playing tambourines and other percussion.

Many of the Grecian Urns grew up in free-thinking, musical, Christian households, and their faith shows up in an uplifting but non-dogmatic spirit, especially in the tune Summer Salt, a new song that had the audience singing along, "Uh-oh-oh-oh, I’ve got the Holy Ghost down in my soul." There was some heckling at this.

Bryce comments: "A young gentleman kept yelling, ‘Satan!’ every time we would say this line. A lot of people have told us we need to ‘drop the f---ing sacred lyrics,’ if we want to go anywhere. We're not trying to be preachy or tell people how to live. But we have to sing with the joy that comes from our faith.’"

Indeed, whatever you want to call the Grecian Urns’ exciting force or soul, it’s infectious and entertaining.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., you can catch members of the Grecian Urns and Sun Society performing together at Cafe Bohemia, 937 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. They're calling it "The Urns Society."

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 3:15pm]


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