November 22, 2019
Six Springs Tavern
Review by David Simers
Photos by David Mercer
Texas Singer Songwriter Kara Grainger Performs @ The Six Springs Tavern
It's always interesting to watch a young musician advance in their career as they all develop at different rates in different areas. Watching Kara Grainger progress in her path to stardom has been a thrill to many fans as she has rapidly improved her skills as a singer, songwriter and musician. To do it as an individual artist instead of working within the confines and comfort of a band makes this growth even more impressive.
Kara put on an outstanding show for her followers at Six Springs Tavern with a 13-song set of blues and rock that showed her talents in all three areas. Her voice was full and ample all night as she used it as another instrument to everyone's delight. Her guitar playing thrilled the crowd with solos that enhanced every song. And her songwriting conveyed her desire to tell a story by creating emotions and memories.
After a set by The Shelley King Band, Ms. Grainger came out to a round of applause and began with the bluesy “Breaking Up Somebody's Home.” She looked and felt at ease as the song naturally flowed . She followed that with the laid-back love song, “Lost In You,” that again expressed a feeling to which the audience could relate.
Switching to the acoustic guitar, Kara also combined her blues voice with excellent slide play on “Nowhere To Be Found.” She received a well-earned hand for her meticulous picking and mesmerizing play of elongated notes. Everyone jumped as she nailed “In My Kitchen,” as not many singers can master the classic blues song by Robert Johnson. Her movements created a strong stage presence that left a lasting impression and keyboardist Will Rogers complemented the song with his play, as he did all night.
“Ghosts” from her fourth and latest solo album, Living With Your Ghost, contained boundless feelings and the tight backup band, led by drummer Fred Mandujano, increased the essence of the song. Fans listened intently as the lyrics told a solid story set to music before an extended jam turned it into an animated ending. Writing songs that fit her voice is a trait that Grainger always employs, as evidenced by “Nobody But You.” The emotion of the words matched the emotion in her voice and the crowd rewarded her with clapping, yelling and words of appreciation.
Listeners could tell the story had actually happened in “Man With Soul” and felt the experience along with the singer/songwriter. Crisp, clear notes were the highlight of an acoustic solo as she was backed by bass player David Guy. A devilish melody began the tale of a trip to New Orleans in “Dreamed I Was The Devil.” Kara continued the dirty beat with a scintillating solo and extended jam on the electric guitar that showed another side of her personality.
A funky beat intro to “New Orleans” was fun to hear and fun for the band to play as the lilting song showed Grainger's wide range of musical styles. It led into “Working My Way” which was highlighted by her acoustic slide play on a prolonged jam that lifted the crowd.
Kara shredded a howling blues solo on electric that led into another jam of several minutes and swayed the audience on the aptly named “Groove Train.” Dancers danced and singers sang along to the melodic song and enjoyed themselves immensely. The penultimate song of her set was the heartbreaking “Comeback,” an poignant blues song that told how a long, lost love almost always comes back to your heart. Everyone who has ever experienced love could relate to the deeply penetrating lyrics, and the heartfelt emotions she displayed while singing made this beautiful tune deeply personal to everyone.
The show had to come to an end and Grainger finished with the upbeat “Favorite Sin.” The message was true to so many - “I made a big mistake once, but I had a great time doing it!” Again, the triple-threat combination of songwriting, passionate voice and emotions flowing from her soul and guitar, and out through her Category 5 amps, made this a terrific closing song.
Ms. Grainger stayed and talked to fans as she sold and autographed previous albums. She told this reporter of her plans to write extensively over the holidays and her ambitious plans for an upcoming album, combining her desires to set aggressive goals to write and record. We spoke of previous conversations and she reiterated how another one of her goals in writing is to tell a relateable story that invokes an emotion, not just putting rhyming words to music. This approach should make her upcoming album for Station House Records one to add to your collection.
Special thanks to Brad and Keri Springs of Six Springs Tavern for their help and for promoting original live music in the area. Also, thanks to Clint Birdwell for his helping hand, and the assistance he has provided to Kara while drawing upon his many years in the business.