By Ashley Lucas
Thursday night at the very classy Jefferson Center, N.C. based band, Mipso, put on a show that was both mellow and flat-footin’, finger-pickin’ good. If you happened to miss it, here’s what listening to Mipso live is like: sitting outside when it’s seventy-two degrees and sunny, having a good, hard laugh with an old friend, and getting a smile from a stranger. It just makes you feel happy.
And that’s not to say that Mipso songs are all butterflies and rainbows because they’re certainly not. Their setlist contained quite a few songs that captured the angsty, mid-to-late 20’s period that we all have to suffer through. What I’m talking about is a sonic happiness.
Mispo’s guitarist and singer, Joseph Terrell, is the king of unexpected yet ear-pleasing chord progressions, smart but playful lyrics, with subtle tonal hint of a country-sounding Paul Simon. Terrell took the crowd on a journey of emotions, from light-hearted tunes like “Hurt so Good” and “Talking In My Sleep”, to more moving numbers like “Monterey County” and “Train Down the Line”.
Not to be outdone vocally was fiddle player, Libby Rodenbough. Saying she has a voice like an angel is not an exaggeration. Whether she was singing lead on songs like “Coming Down the Mountain” and “Water Runs Red”, or harmony on “Get Out” and “Louise”, she was perfectly in key and quite simply, perfectly perfect. Rodenbough and Terrell’s beautiful duet of “Cry Like Somebody” evoked a sense of traveling back in time; when music was still pure and simple and honest.
Rounding out the vocal trifecta was mandolin player and guitarist, Jacob Sharp. Of all the Mipso members, his solid stage presence stood out the most. This quietly funny string-master also has a gorgeous, breathy voice which filled the Jefferson Center’s Rehearsal Hall to capacity. His songs, “Do You Want Me?” and “Hallelujah”, were some of the best of the performances of the night.
Delivering an exceptional rhythm was bass player Wood Robinson, who also provided the much needed low harmonies, not to mention, an awesome beard. New-to-the-group drummer, Yan Westerlund, did not miss a beat. Together the two of them held down the bottom of this incredibly tight band.
If Mipso ever comes back to Roanoke, which the big turnout last night indicates they definitely should, do NOT miss it. In the meantime, purchase their album, stream it if you have to, but give these guys (and lovely gal) a listen. That is, if you want happy ears.
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