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Originals or covers? 2 singers offer contrasts
Thursday, 05 October 2017 10:29
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Steven Pelland entertained the crowd with a set of his original songs during a concert Sept. 15 in the upstairs lounge at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall in West Asheville.

 Ryan Guerra performed the opening set, doing mostly covers of the Beatles and James Taylor.

Pelland, a Fall River, Mass., native, performed an array of songs on guitar and sang, often accompanied by a keyboardist. At times, he sounded a bit like “sensitive guy” rocker Jackson Browne.

Among Pelland’s memorable songs was “Let’s Figure It Out,” which he billed as “my upbeat protest song.”

Further into his act, Pelland quipped, “Man, I might have to do a James Taylor cover,” but he noted — playfully — that Guerra already had played Taylor’s best songs earlier. 

“The thing is, even though I’ve been a big fan of James Taylor ... To get his presence and guitar work — it takes a lot of work. So I avoided that.... I spent a lot of time looking in the mirror, because no one else wanted to hear me.”

For an encore, Pelland played his only cover — of  Taylor’s “Millworker.” He introduced the song by saying, “Thank God that Ryan didn’t play this one.” The audience applauded his efforts at length.

Guerra, who has performed in a number of tribute shows at Flat Rock Playhouse, provided the opening act with a one-hour set .

He noted that the crowd would see that “I’m obviously a big Beatles and James Taylor fan.”

Among the most memorable songs performed by Guerra were “Here Comes the Sun” and “In My Life,” both by the Beatles; and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” by Taylor.

Guerra also performed “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” by the Beatles, “You’ve Got a Friend” by Taylor; “A Real Straight Shooter” by the Mamas and Papas, “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles, “Fire and Rain” by Taylor, “All My Loving” by the Beatles and “Shower My World” by Taylor.

Guerra noted that “Fire and Rain” is one of his favorite songs and, indeed, his rendition of that hit was, arguably, the high point of his performance.

Another highlight of Guerra’s set was his finale — an interweaving of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” with bits of  Taylor’s “In My Mind I’m Going to Carolina.”



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