Today’s Free At Noon concert featured 11 local musicians paying tribute to Bobbie Gentry’s album Ode to Billie Joe, in celebration of author Tara Murtha’s new 33 1/3 book exploring the album. Performing under the name The Lower 40 (a lyric from the album’s title track), the band took the stage today at noon, filling it out entirely with their five interchanging vocalists, horns, vibraphone and more.
Singers Sue Rosetti, Birdie Busch, Alison Polans, Ali Wadsworth and Kerry Hallett took turns crooning into the microphone – over half of them donned Gentry’s signature beehive – and the execution was on point, with string musicians contributing subtle accents, trumpets and trombones giving a vintage flare and a foundation provided by solid guitar as well as upright bass from bandleader / bassist Phil D’Agostino.
Murtha also shared the stage briefly as she announced the official release of her work book and elaborated a bit on her research into the album, ending with a hopeful shoutout to the artist (who hasn’t appeared in public since 1980). Celebrating such an important figure in music history made today’s Free At Noon quite a special one.
If you missed today’s performance, you can catch The Lower 40 tonight at Underground Arts where they’ll continue the fun. More information on tonight’s show can be found here. Check out the photo gallery and listen to an archive of today’s concert.