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The young and spunky Vanessa Bley, daughter of jazz pianist Paul Bley, kicked off this intimate evening amongst a bevy of friends and fans, with her raucous, emotionally-stirring set.  She mixed it up with heady piano ballads and crafty, guitar-based pop tunes and made great use of the room’s cozy acoustics, especially during her “hit” songs such as “Goodbye Love”.

One of our local favorites, Luke Rathborne, took the stage next.  Every time we’ve seen him in the past, his whisper-clad songs take the audience under his spell immediately and command attention.  Unfortunately, it seemed many of tonight’s listeners were deep into their pub meals and cocktails at this point and Rathborne had a bit of a struggle getting his haunting poetry heard, and more importantly, felt, especially when he sat behind the piano.

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Since he’s only 21 years old and we’ve been fans since we caught one of his first stripped-down shows at Cake Shop almost two years ago, we empathized with his obvious disenchantment and were able to push past the tension in the room. Instead, we fell into his burning, heartfelt songs like the gutsy “Cold Breeze”, and were pleasantly surprised when Rathborne brought out a veritable orchestra that included a plethora of string, brass and woodwind musicians, almost too many to stand on the tiny stage.

Via Tania, who’s been touted as everything from the next Bat For Lashes to Feist and even Björk, has a rum-smooth, verging on raspy voice and a sweet self-confidence that’s almost alarming.  Though she hasn’t got the arty mystery or edge of some of the artists she’s been compared to, her straightforward, brazen charm puts her in a class of her own.  Her song “The Beginning”, from her album Moon Sweet Moon, was a standout in her shimmering set.–MVW/photos by EM