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Songs from the Heart in Millerton

Music Review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sun Jun 9th, 2019

Steve Dedman, George Potts, Jeff Przech, Hillary Barleauz

Outside of local churches in the area of Northeastern Duchess County, there is no music scene, except for the Millerton Library’s Music in the Annex series on Saturday nights at 7:30 pm. Last Saturday evening “Songwriter Showcase” featured the work by Jeff Przech, Hillary Barleaux, George Potts, and Steve Dedman. The format permitted a sampling of different styles and voices with each performer presenting four pieces in round robin format.

The informal nature of the format allowed individual artists to speak more about the history and background of the piece they were to perform as they were performing only songs that they they themselves had written.

Steve Dedman, leader of the band Plywood Cowboy, played both electric keyboard and acoustic guitar. Three of his four numbers were from his most recent cd Blue Skies. On keyboard Steve had a fluid touch with emphasis on melody. He has a pleasant tenor voice. You could catch the whole five performer band next week in Manhattan Soho neighborhood at Rockwood Music Hall on June 23. Plywood Cowboy tours broadly throughout the Northeast. Dedman’s lyrics are strong in anecdote, intelligent, brimming with a confident, ironic humor. “Steps Back to You” was country traditional format but contemporary without a trace of corn.

Hillary Barleaux has one album out with another to be released this summer. She accompanies her solo act on electronic keyboard. Her emo style offers more introverted lyrical musings centered on love, aspiration, and the frustration of failed romances. She has an attractive mezzo-soprano voice that allows octave changes. Her lyrics stayed within the confines of a she-he dialogue while her compositional ambiance displayed more spatial ambiance. The refrain in “Polaroids and Postcards” was forceful and memorable.

Jeff Przech provided a contemporary folksong line of the wandering troubadour from the hard times working class. He delivers a large sonorous sound on acoustic guitar, his voice being far more attractive without the mike (which distorts voices, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse). His lyrics are of the lived life in the country western tradition, yet he remains authentic beyond cliché. “Helena” was written in Montana but not much appreciated there because they have many local songs of that nature but “The Willows” had more attractive local accent.

George Potts, tenor vocalist, plays guitar with the band Joint Chiefs. An excellent picker, George can play country, rock, or jazz. He has an easy versatility and improvised accompaniment with Steve Dedman on one number and Steve reciprocated improvising on his next number which gave the concert the feel of a backroom session with musicians swapping musical motifs or experimental arrangements. George has a lovely tenor voice supported by deep harmony on guitar. He concluded with an old original “My Old Car” which tells the amusing story of a man sentimentally reluctant to give up his dying junk car because of its associative memories.

George Potts plays with The Joint Chiefs which features Eliot Osborne on vocals, bass and guitar; Louise Lindenmeyr on vocals, mandolin and button accordion; and Diana Herold on drums and percussion. They often play in Kent, CT, at the Fife ‘n Drum restaurant, yet you can catch the full Joint Chiefs at the Millerton Library Annex for $5 entrance this June 22 at 7:30 pm.