Wednesday, July 13
It may seem like an unlikely pairing, Jill Sobule and John Doe, she>"/>
The Tractor Wednesday, July 13
Jill Sobule and John Doe
Wednesday, July 13
It may seem like an unlikely pairing, Jill Sobule and John Doe, she of "I Kissed a Girl" fame and he a founding member of L.A. cow-punk group X. But both singer/songwriters have made careers for themselves over several decades by cultivating loyal followings on the fringes of the mainstream. And on their funded-by-the-fans and recorded-in-a-day LP, A Day at the Pass, the duo duet, play some covers, offer a few songs of their own, and generally just have a good time.
That same description could fit the pair's live show at the Tractor Wednesday night, one of just a handful of shows the two are doing together to support the record. Though their songwriting styles are different, their live pairing worked really well as they appeared side-by-side trading songs back and forth. Both artists have folk roots with a well-defined point of view. Sobule's folk-pop is whip-smart and witty, littered with pop-culture references and personal revelations, while Doe's songs are more abstract, equally heady but in a less precise way, often hitting you hardest after the final chord has rung out.
Sobule and Doe appeared sans band, just the two of them, a couple of guitars, one amp, and a banjo. The duo collaborated on a few songs from their LP, and both played songs from their various records while the other sang harmonies. Both performers are seasoned troubadours and were warm and comfortable onstage, their genuine affection for one another evident as they laughed, told stories, and talked to the crowd.
Highlights from the pair's 75-minute set included a version of X's "4th of July," Doe's "Golden State," one of the great duets of the last decade, and Sobule's "Palm Springs," which evokes a different side of California as it seamlessly references Gram Parsons, Sonny Bono, and Brian Wilson. Sobule closed her set with a medley that included her surprise 1995 hit "I Kissed a Girl." "It kind of tweaked me for a minute," she said about her song's title being co-opted by Katy Perry. "Until I realized a bunch of 12-year-olds accidentally bought my song."
Though their Day at the Pass LP isn't as fully formed as either of their recent solo sets, it isn't intended to be. Instead it is a souvenir from their day spent in the studio together, two musicians doing what they do as the other looks on with admiration. And where lesser songwriters may have gotten competitive or too wrapped up in the process, both Doe and Sobule give the album--and their live set--an easy-going vibe that isn't weighed down by ego, but that instead radiates the simple joy of collaboration.
Personal bias: Seated shows at the Tractor are awesome!
Sharing is caring: Sobule and Doe traded their one electric guitar back and forth as they needed it during their set, which was kind of adorable.