Shrouded in mist, encumbered by a chill wind, Adam Ezra Group’s annual Boston Hahbah Cruise last Sunday afternoon aboard the Provincetown II felt like being on a boat in the Twilight Zone, a place where time and space had forgotten after Armageddon. Yet, despite chilly temperatures on the upper deck where the band was playing, AEG managed to put on a solid performance as the cold air put the zap here and there on their sound equipment.
After noting his packed audience, Ezra launched into “Come On Over,” his handsome, sandpapery voice crooning this folksy sing along. Segueing into “A Boy’s Song” Ezra continuing the folk music communal feeling, slapping out acoustic guitar chords while singing at a brisk pace, keeping the energy flowing and the audience following. Ezra then lead his group into his jaunty piece “Erica,” a song that uncannily combined folk idioms with pop chorus catchiness.
New song “Live Loud” featured some fine harmonica shots from Ezra, fitting just right into the spaces left open by Corinna Smith’s lilting Americana flavor fiddle. Ezra offered his comforting guitar chords during “The Toast,” a mellow song that moves with a forceful flow before a foot stomping bass guitar and bass drum beat drove home AEG’s rendition of “Ophelia,” sweet, jubilant voices and fiddle on top.
AEG’s friend, U. S. Army Culinary Specialist Aaron Fierros came up to articulate American Sign Language as the band played their folk anthem “Keepin’ On,” a number that made its words ripple through the air. “Find A Way” let the band showcase their harmony vocals which they performed acapella. Other instances of talent shined through the foggy day: Poche Ponce played his bass with one while shaking a percussion instrument with his other during “The Mountain.”
Frequent AEG guest Kali joined Ezra on stage for a song they wrote together titled “Up Up Up” before the pair lead the group through its catchy folk rocker “Life Of A Thief,” which featured a cool improvised rap from Kali as well as Smith’s emotive fiddle cries. It helped to have their former band mate Josh Gold on board, sporting a green rain slicker, to close out this tune with soulful organ over a solid underpinning from the rhythm section. Switching to the two step groove of “3 Days’ gave the deck audience something to tap their toes to. Yet, it was “Hippie Girl” let the band jive together with funky authority swinging around a one word bridge.
With a sly comedic twist, Ezra piloted his followers through a cover of the appropriate “I’m On A Boat” then took a turn toward human foibles with “Devil Side,” the haunting fiddle line dissolving into Alex Martin’s drum solo, intricate, pounding on a variety of his drum pieces to keep his sound varied. Martin just kept going until there were more loud pops than a Fourth of July grand finale.
A vibrant stage presence, Smith jumped right into the fiery fiddle work of the band’s hilarious “The Devil Went Up To Boston.” She created a wild, frenetic melody line as she and her band mates played the song faster than they ever had, probably in an effort to stay warm by staying in motion. Ezra’s newer piece “Switching to Whiskey” made the chilly deck feel the bluesy, boozy message. It seemed to get warmer when Smith’s fiery fiddle lit up the deck when she unleashed it for “Steal Your Daughter,” an Ezra rocker and a live show staple.
Gold’s organ, Smith’s accordion and Ponche’s bass loaded “Juna” with knobby notes that kept that soulful work afloat. Ezra’s bluesy harmonica wailing intro to “14 Days” caught attention with its dynamic moan. It probably raised a few pulses and again, their music made the chilly deck feel warmer. Gold used his organ effects to make a big furnace of sound, like a lead guitar burning feedback through an amp.
The weather put a damper on the day but it didn’t stop a band of professional musicians from doing their jobs. Being talented musicians they over came the occasional sound drops and distortion emanating from their weather impacted gear. Last Sunday’s Boston Hahbah Cruise will be one to remember for only the Adam Ezra Group could keep the tiny ship from getting tossed into the bizarre Twilight Zone atmosphere.