We saw the Little Willies at the Birchmere last night. The main reason? Norah Jones is one of them. She and Richard Julian share lead vocals, but it’s a different feel than her albums. That was crystallized when the band were given drinks, and as she picked one up she said “I can’t do this in my solo shows”.
The music has more of a country feel, which makes sense, given their origin as a Willie Nelson cover band. But there’s a difference beyond that to her solo stuff. I watched a video of her at Wolf Trap in 2003, and it was a bigger place than she was ready for. She also didn’t fit in well as a frontman (frontperson doesn’t roll off the tongue, does it). But last night she looked very comfortable as occaisonal leader, and the smaller crowd at the Birchmere must not have been nearly as intimidating.
The music was good, too. I usually rely on Entertainment Weekly for reviews, as they seem closest to my taste for most pop culture. But they only gave the CD a C+, and I decided to buy it anyway. I was glad I did. I don’t know if I’ll buy any of Richard Julian’s solo stuff – he has the same problem as Jesse Harris (writer of “Don’t Know Why”) – a thin voice. But even when she’s not singing lead, her rich voice wraps around his and grabs your attention.
Not to mention we only had lawn seats at Wolf Trap – almost anything beats that.