Samuel James and Moses Atwood

Music seen at One Longfellow Square, September 14, 2007
By SONYA TOMLINSON  |  September 19, 2007

Walking into One Longfellow Square for the first time since it stopped being the Center for Cultural Exchange I had a lot of questions, and found pleasant answers.

Yes, you use the same door. Yes, there is still a concession counter and box office with three very lovely ladies on staff. Yes, they still serve alcohol. Yes, there is still seating, and the balcony and the stage are in the same place.

I expected the double-bill of Samuel James and Moses Atwood last Friday to be full. Shamefully, in this perfect atmosphere for such a show, it was not. People did file in late, as I did, but future patrons should note that One Longfellow Square appears to be a classy joint and will most likely start their shows on time.

Multiple tea lights lit the two chairs and one microphone on stage. Atwood opened the set with songs about traveling. James joined him and countered with his own interpretation of traveling songs. After they had each played a few they asked the audience if we would prefer three songs in a row or a one-for-one back and forth. The crowd decided the night would proceed as a song-for-song rotation.

This format brought their contrasts and similarities to the surface. Though both are nostalgic, James’s material is often energetic and full and Atwood’s very emotional and sparser. A favorite of James’s was a new instrumental called, “Oooh Rosa,” that climaxed and retreated several times. James’s picking style was so diverse throughout the song it was as if you were hearing a medley. Atwood’s tale of convicted murderer “Perry Smith” was riveting.

The respect these two have for each other’s talent is evident. Whether they’re tapping their toes in time, swapping lines to a joke or singing harmonies to Tom Waits’s “Cold Water” they leave the audience feeling as connected to them as they are to each other.

  Topics: New England Music News , Tom Waits, Perry Smith, Samuel James,  More more >
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