Written by James Killen
Sep 29, 2012 at 07:00 PM
ImageIt was an intimate crowd that joined Wendy Colonna at Almost Austin on Saturday night to celebrate her birthday. It was a very special opportunity to share a milestone of life with a beautiful spirit that so openly enjoys life. Wendy is a favorite at Almost Austin and it was obvious to all that she felt most comfortable there. On this night she took the stage solo with a red guitar and no play list.

She started her show off with the crooning “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” leading into “October”. The opening song sounded more like the beginning of an evening of conversation than just an opening number as Wendy began to invite the audience into her world. She took her voice out for a spin with “We Are One” beginning in a low bluesy rasp sliding smoothly through the octave change in the song. On this occasion, it was easy to appreciate how strong and mature her voice has become.

Her style is folk mixed with blues and a pinch of jazz and just a dash of country. Her song writing talent is not to be ignored (2007 Austin Statesman songwriter of the year), as she easily sprinkles a few of her favorite cover songs over a set of her own shared creations.

Her set continued with her new song, “Dirty Things”, “Coffee Today”, “Yesterday Blues” (a yodeling number from her recent Belgian recording), “Easy”, “May Day” and the jazzy growling blues vocals of “Hurricane”. Wendy ended her first set with a cover song from her front porch singing days, Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet”. “Romeo and Juliet” is still one of my favorites from that era and Ms. Colonna did it justice, playing the chords with gusto and hovering over the lines that really get me down deep.

ImageThe second set started off with Wendy inviting the small crowd in to her show a little deeper, requesting a gospel clapping rhythm for “Shine”. Everyone was all ears for “Louisiana” and the jazzy guitar riffs of “You’re the One That You’ve Been Waiting For”. The crowd was again asked to participate with some beatnik finger-snapping for “Forgive Me”.

The show got even more intimate as Wendy began to reach back for some songs that she hadn’t performed in years. Some of them she had to hum through a couple of times until they came back to her, but each one was like a long lost piece of jewelry found in the back of a drawer someplace, all the more precious for being brought to the light of day once again.

The familiar “Bound to Fail”, “Mojo Hanna”, and “Nothing Gonna Take My Love” were interspersed with the sad ballad “Why Must You Leave Your Things All About” and “Something New” (an old song well worth resurrecting). Wendy dug deeply for one of her old favorite Brian Keane songs to start her encore and ended the evening with the slow drawl of the southern standard, “Lazy Bones”.

The evening was very special to all of the audience as Wendy shared her thoughts and talents with us. There was no embarrassment for old songs that had a line skipped. It was like being invited out for a little evening cruise with Ms. Colonna on her way to bigger and better things.