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Lack of stage polish, no problem for Goodnight Moonshine

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., May 30, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

If you were expecting a highly fine-tuned, totally in synch show from Goodnight Moonshine, then you would have been disappointed by the husband-and-wife duo of Molly Venter and Eben Pariser. But lack of perfection - mainly when it came to the stuff outside of actually playing and singing, like stage banter - didn't mean that this concert fell short.

Nope. Instead, Goodnight Moonshine turned in a loose, but musically high engaging show.

Venter is better known for being one-third of Red Molly. Pariser is a member of Roosevelt Dime. Neither Red Molly nor Goodnight Moonshine tours a tremendous amount these days, which could account for the lack of polish, but that had no impact on Venter's singing or Pariser's playing.

She has one powerful, evocative voice that from stood out from start to finish. There was a lot of timbre and vibrancy in her delivery.

Pariser mainly stuck to playing the guitar, but he took a few stabs at lead singing. He's not the powerhouse that his wife is, but he acquitted himself well enough and backed her up admirably on vocals as well. His guitar work fleshed out and gave a bit of texture to the songs.

Give them mucho credit for an ultra cool mash-up of Pink Floyd's "Time" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Yes, it conceptually sounds totally weird and strange (especially when they're singing at the same time), but it worked.

When it came to between song banter, they didn't seem to always be on the same page with Pariser a bit on the impish side, poking fun at Venter. There's something to be said for letting it fly without a script in hand.

Now the playing and singing was another beast. On that, Goodnight Moonshine was most in synch and sounded wonderful.

Folk/Americana singer Letitia Vansant of Baltimore opened with a most satisfying set. She released the very satisfying "Gut to the Studs" last year. Vansant deserves enough credit for turning in a song about building, but there was far more to her than that.

Like Venter, Vansant showcased herself to be a most warm singer. She didn't have the vocal depth of Venter as Vansant was more tender ("Fireflies:). She also picked up on the more upbeat title track.

Both couples were on stage during Vansant's closing song, "How I Feel," with Vansant sometimes singing off mic. Vansant would later return the favor on John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery." It was the end of a pleasing and most satisfying night of music.