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Lady Danville @ Hotel Cafe 8/25/09

Lady Danville at the Hotel Cafe
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The trio Lady Danville (Michael Garner, Dan Chang and Matthew Frankel) took to the stage for an early set at Hotel Cafe on Tuesday night to solidly appreciative and collegial crowd. Our guess is that many UCLA students, alums and friends ventured East of Westwood to hear the band who were all members of UCLA’s a cappella choir, Awaken A Capella.

Now generally there’s no real middle ground for a cappella music: you either love it or hate it, but this trio seems to have found a middle ground with well-crafted pop songs, tight (but not overdone) harmonies and good musicianship. Think Guster or Ben Folds Five meets early Barenaked Ladies (without anyone tossing macaroni).

Their nine-song set featured mostly Garner on keys and Chang on guitar switching between lead vocals. And instead of a typical drum kit, Frankel played the cajon (box drum). It was fun to listen to the beats he could conjure from the box. The guys seem to have an easy rapport with each other, and the audience banter didn’t cross into land of cheese and smarm.

Standout songs include “Spoon”; the Lily Allen cover “Everything’s Just Wonderful” and a kitschy “The Uke Song” featuring Garner on the ukulele. (The other two got sick of Garner strumming the uke for hours on end during road trips so they forced him to be productive and write a song for the instrument.)

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Lady Danville first gained exposure in 2007 when their song “Tired Magician” was included in a Star 98.7 compilation CD. Earlier this summer, they scored a berth in an acoustic festival at the Ford Amphitheater and continue to tour the West while working on more songs for their repertoire.

If you’re looking for metaphysical lyrics or vocal angst, you gotta look elsewhere. This trio is about keeping the harmonies light and the music mostly on the fun side, which sometimes isn’t bad thing.