Fair Games

 Photo: Karen Ponzio

Photo: Karen Ponzio

For the past ten months (and hopefully for many more), Paul Belbusti and his band, Mercy Choir, have been hosting a concert series on the last Friday of the month at the one-of-kind Never Ending Books, in New Haven, CT: Mercy Choir and Friends.

On Friday, May 26th, I had the pleasure of performing at an unusual show in the series: Lines West and Mercy Choir, typically bands of 4+ musicians, appeared as a duo and a solo act, respectively.  I was (not so) secretly glad of this stripped-down scenario, as it made me and my laptop slightly less anomalous among the evening's fare.

I was thrilled to start off the night, and debuted two songs from my first EP, Pupa, that had yet to see the stage lights.  Lines West lulled the audience into comfortable revery with intimate arrangements and lovely harmonies, and dusted off some less-played songs of their own. (They also invited me back to the stage to don wings and bobbling antennae as their Honeybee.) And, had Paul simply pulled out his guitar and played any of his (literally) hundreds of well-loved songs, it would have been a perfect evening...

But he did us one better.

With the Mercy Choir and Friends residency in its tenth month, Paul had been looking for ways to keep things interesting— for himself, as well as his audience.  So he decided, for this solo show, to write an entirely new album. The ten songs which he played make up Fair Games, a startling album with songs ranging from the existential and introspective, to the speculative, and even the silly.

The twenty or so of us there that night were privy to a truly wonderful musical moment; the kind of moment that is— blessedly, and no less wonderfully for it— a semi-regular occurrence in New Haven.

Thank you, Paul, for a memorable night.

Sam Moth