This is the second part of a wonderful musical evening that took place at Mezzrow, on West Tenth Street, New York City, last Sunday night. The quietly eloquent Hilary Gardner brought her new program of “trail songs,” which combine film-cowboy-music with a real understanding of the “vast open spaces” that sometimes seem lost to us when we are commuting to work or contemplating the view from our largest window. But imagine, if you will, prairies and plains without nail salons or cellphone towers.
The songs have deep jazz / American songbook connections in Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer, Jack Teagarden, Benny Carter, Frank Sinatra, and more. And Hilary’s little band — Justin Poindexter, guitar, vocal; Alex Hargreaves, violin; Noah Garabedian, string bass — creates lyrical swinging conversation, full of feeling. They have a good time, and they invite us to join in.
I’ve been admiring Hilary’s singing for a decade now: she’s sending those emotional messages us so sweetly and deeply – never losing her grip on the metaphysical saddle for an instant. Her pleasure in what she’s doing, the lines she sings, comes across in every phrase.
I should also say this isn’t fake-nostalgia: these songs come out of a yearning for an America that’s sometimes hard to see, and the joy of discovering and re-discovering it, in music.
Hilary, Noah, Justin at their first gig at Bar 55, 2021
You don’t need to lasso a pinto pony or drink cowboy coffee from a tin cup (both hazardous in their own ways) — just listen, watch, and admire. Make yourself to home. And if you haven’t enjoyed the first part of the evening, it’s right beyond the campfire.
SMOKIN’ MY LAST CIGARETTE, also known as COWBOY SERENADE:
A goofy paean to singlehood, JINGLE JANGLE JINGLE:
The very pretty CALL OF THE CANYON:
Cole Porter dons his leather chaps for DON’T FENCE ME IN:
For Bob Wills, NEW SAN ANTONIO ROSE:
And the program ended with the proper sign-off, thinking of Trigger, Dale, and Roy, with HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU:
The applause will tell you that I wasn’t the only one enjoying myself: there will be many such evenings to come for Hilary and her little band of heartfelt players, lighting the way home down the winding trail, wherever it may lead.
May your happiness increase!