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The Suitcase Junket shows he has more than quirkiness going for him

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., December 29, 2019

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The Suitcase Junket best describes the accouterments onstage with which Matt Lorenz (he is The Suitcase Junket) stages his concert. Remove the "et" from Junket, and you have a better idea of what Lorenz is all about, but that would give no indication of the quality of the music, which is much greater than the sum of its broken parts. Lorenz embodies the poor struggling musician. His shoes had all sorts of tape on them to hold them together. And then there were the instruments. Lorenz is a one-man band, and an impressive one at that, even if his instruments weren't. There's the baby shoe (Lorenz claimed that both he and his sister wore the shoe. One shouldn't doubt him) that served as a kick for the drum, a gas drum in its heyday. Plus a saw of some type that created some percussive type of sound. Not to mention a dried bone that he used to bang the drums. You get the idea. Lorenz is being quirky presumably for the sake of being quirky. Now, if he wasn't any good as an actual musician, then all the shtick in the world couldn't possibly make up for a deficiency in talent. Lorenz was a roadhouse rocker more than anything else with a dense sound musically. He wouldn't be pigeonholed, though, as he threw in the blues and a roots song or two into the mix over the course of the 75-minute set. He showed off his singing skills by coming out to the lip of the stage and going acoustic. That was a good move both times, showing a different side of the New England musician. Perhaps what was most impressive was that Lorenz made the one-man band concept work - all the more impressive considering that he had a lot going on musically. He was always playing guitar, not to mention the drums and percussive sounds, using a whistle also and doing some form of throat singing. Somehow, he managed to keep it all straight and show that while he's novel in his approach, if you close your eyes, he's no novelty act. New Orleans-based singer Carsie Blanton opened with a very satisfying 45-minute set of jazzy-flavored (at least vocally) numbers. She's got a charisma and attitude about her - whether delving into politics on a number of songs or failed relationships (Blanton admitted she fell in love easily). Lest things grow too serious with her songs, Blanton kept things light and humorous during her between song banter.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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