Humming House cures disease. At least temporarily. Maybe. I don't know. All I know is yesterday I was sick all day, and actually almost cancelled going to see the show at The Funky Biscuit in Boca, what with a sick kid and Carlos being sick, too. So, yeah, lots of sick. None the less, we decided to go and while I was there, I felt totally fine. It lasted enough to get me home and now here I am, after a sleepless night, in need of that sweet harmonious medicine.
We got there earlier than expected and found our seats, directly in front of the stage, while the band was doing their soundcheck. The place is pretty small and once they started playing, there were maybe 30-40 people in there, tops. And it was exactly what the doctor ordered. They mentioned how they hadn't slept and were probably not going to be sleeping for some time, either, but their attitudes were exactly what I remembered from last year, when I saw them open for St. Paul and The Broken Bones in Orlando. The major difference this time was obviously the intimacy of this venue, which felt like we were all sitting in someone's living room and our friends, Humming House, just happened to stop by. It was a more subdued experience than the raucous party vibe last year, which made one thing stand out to me more than ever: their harmonies, in all combinations, are impeccable.
Among songs that have become old favorites for me, like "This Hell Where We Belong," "Fly On" and "Run With Me" there were several new songs, which they mentioned didn't even have titles yet. The new material seemed to lean more on soul and R&B than their older material, and it works really well. They already were covering several classic soul numbers from The Jackson Five to Whitney Houston and Justin Timberlake last year, so it's not a stretch. One thing about this band is you can't really pigeonhole them. Are they folk? Country? Bluegrass? Celtic? Sure. And then some. They've added some electric instruments to their repertoire and did a half acoustic, half electric cover of Cake's "The Distance" that was unexpected and tons of fun to see everyone scramble to switch instruments halfway through while Leslie Rodriguez sang an acapella bit.
Another addition this time was a full drum set, which Bobby Chase jumped on, and keyboards which Bobby and Josh Wolak both played at a couple of points. Ben Jones picked up an electric bass a few times and Justin Wade Tam went electric several times as well. It wasn't Dylan at Newport revolutionary, but it was still refreshing to see them add layers without losing anything in the process. What holds them together in my mind, aside from the obvious talent, is their sense of fun and how well rooted they are in the traditions they play with.
After the show, we hung around and talked to Justin for a bit. I mentioned I had written about them before and had reviewed their latest album, Revelries. He told us a little bit about the vinyl mastering process, because I think he recognized we were music geeks (good call). We also talked briefly to each member of the band as we had them sign the album for us. All of them are as down to earth as their stage presence suggests. I've said it before and I'll say it again, see this band live whenever you get the chance.