Columbus, OH, The Basement, February 22, 2006

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

For the few hundred in attendance at The Basement for the Ben Taylor, Tristan Prettyman show, it was a laid-back evening filled with acoustic vibe, perhaps a bit of green love and soothing yet gritty tunes.

 

After the opening act left the stage, it was only a matter of about 15 minutes before Ben Taylor, his sister Sally, was there to not just lend a voice, but also a song to the set list. Taylor, donning a worn-out Sugar Smacks vintage T-shirt, dirty-denim jeans and bare feet, lullabied the cooing women for nearly an hour. His voice is very reminiscent of his father (James Taylor), while his lyrics are more granular in the same vain of his mother (Carly Simon). Although Sally admits in her on-line journal that Ben was not too happy with the performance, it didn't show in his stage demeanor or his sound. Ben was on key vocally and in tune musically as he strolled his way though the night just as if someone was strolling through Goodale Park on a nice Spring-like Sunday. This was a co-headlining tour, but Ben Taylor was the only act with full-on band percussion and bass. Although his music can be just as easily listened to and played with an acoustic guitar or just an unaccompanied voice, Ben Taylor brought the whole band, which added a nice element to the otherwise scaled-down night.

 

And like the Ben Taylor Band, Tristan Prettyman wasted no time in coming on stage after Ben, Sally and the rest of the crew departed the tiny stage. Although some of Ben's opposite sex fans left after his set was over and he made an appearance at the merch booth, it was their loss as Prettyman and percussionist Jen Lowe took the stage for just over 60 minutes of quality music.

 

In typical Prettyman fashion, it was a show filled with sincerity, banter and music to be wooed by. Although Prettyman does attack some tough subjects in her music, more often than not, her voice and lyrics are hopeful and filled with love lost and love gained. Her songs are short stories surrounded with mellow yet upbeat acoustic guitar and beat slaps. Live, her Taylor guitar, which has probably drank more blood from her fingers and hands that any vampire could from a jugular, sounds incredibly sentimental, and when she has small talk with the crowed, it is almost as if watching a close friend play a house party.

 

Prettyman is also a master of adding a trickle of cover songs to her set, and this night Britney Spears and Oasis got the nod. Hell, anyone that can cover Oasis and make it sound sexy and somewhat erotic has to be worth the price of admission! Once Prettyman worked a few songs into her set, it was easy to see how she has developed such a loyal fan base. Songs like twentythree single Love Love Love and Simple As It Should Be (even Prettyman and Lowe couldn't help but smile at the sing-along to that one) were played so elequently it was almost as if Tristan's fingers were on autopilot as they glided over the strings. Too often, Prettyman is being compared to Jack Johnson, perhaps because both play acoustic and surf, but musically they are very different. However there is one major comparison.

 

Much like Johnson, Prettyman has no barrier between herself and those listening to her music. Like most great songwriters, Prettymand and Johnson allow whatever they want to say to be in their music, no holds barred; which makes the comment Prettyman made in a Penthouse interview that much more clearlwhen she says she would like to do some country tunes. Much like country music artists, Prettyman is very open and honest with her supporters and allows herself to be as amenable as her music. That openess and honesty is what attracts those in the audience to her music and to her personally. Prettyman is as real as an artist can get, and that is what good music is all about.

And here we are, the end of the review and no mention of boyfriend Jason Mraz or her down-home attractiveness. Damn, well almost made it through without mentioning either of those.

Ben Taylor
Tristan Prettyman
Tristan Prettyman
Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor
Tristan Prettyman