Greg Laswell with Elizabeth & The Catapult
Rumba Cafe – Columbus, Ohio
Tuesday night I took in a show at Columbus’ Rumba Café in the heart of a neighborhood where it seems a great deal of The Ohio State University’s student population lives during the school year. About a month prior, I had been clued in to the down-to-earth musical stylings of Greg Laswell, so I was stoked to find out that he was passing through on his tour. The venue was a cozy little bar with a few tables and a stage in one corner of the long seating area. The café probably has a max 500 capacity, so it was the perfect place to see Greg’s type of performance.
Opening for him was Elizabeth & The Catapult, who I had never heard of before seeing them that night. Frontwoman Elizabeth Ziman introduced the band by letting the audience know this was their first tour ever, and consequently their first visit to Ohio. If they hope to make an impression with their first outing then they have succeeded. Ziman’s voice sounds like a blend of the very best parts of Sara Bareilles and Norah Jones, and she is just as talented a musician and songwriter as either songstress. The band put on an entertaining show that displayed their versatility very well.
Their first song was a soft piano number, and throughout the performance they flowed from poppy folk music to the throw back sound of the 60′s with ease. A closer listen to the words makes it obvious that Ziman is a clever lyricist. She skillfully boils complex human problems down to their basic roots. The title track of the band’s freshman release, Taller Children, observes, “in the end we’re all just taller children”. Either of the first two tracks on the album could be radio singles as they both have very catchy melodies and beats. This is one band to keep an eye on.
While the members of Elizabeth & The Catapult hung out at the merch table toward the back of the room, Greg and his band took the stage. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the name Greg Laswell, you have probably hard his music before. His songs have been featured on hit shows like True Blood, Grey’s Anatomy, and Smallville. One enthusiastic show attendee who kept yelling his approval called Greg a “burly man-angel”. I can see that. Besides his rugged good looks, Greg’s songs do provide the perfect soundtrack to life’s emotional moments – everything from breakups, to makeups, losses, and turning points – which is probably why so many television drama producers used his music on their shows.
Greg played an hour-plus set of original songs, including several songs off his 2009 album — Three Flights From Alto Nido. My personal favorite is “Comes and Goes (In Waves) “, which manages to blend the feelings of hopefulness and sadness in just a few chords of the guitar and piano. But the show wasn’t all soulful reflection. On a lighter note, he bantered with the crowd, telling hilarious (and embarrassing) stories of what life as a musician is like. He also covered Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and sounded about 100x better than the original.
This show was the perfect end to a stressful day at work. The tour has just a few more upcoming dates on the West Coast. If it’s stopping in your town, make sure to catch it. And check out the latest releases from these two talented artists. If you like smartly-written, artfully- crafted tunes you won’t be disappointed.
Elizabeth & The Catapult photo credit to Krista Fogle: http://www.flickr.com/people/kristafogle/
Greg Laswell photo courtesy of Aubrey Muncy
By Alicia Inman
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