Thursday was a homecoming for former Philadelphia folk maestro Meg Baird at Johnny Brenda’s. With a new, utterly gorgeous LP at her disposal — Don’t Weigh Down the Light — she cast a magical live spell.
Perched on a stool with a six-string guitar in hand, Baird unfurled one haunting tune after another. With a voice that strolls through an English countryside on a frosty winter evening, Baird’s work takes listeners to the otherworldly and centuries seemingly far in the past. Then there is the guitar of Charlie Saufley, a brilliant counterpoint that gets moments of unexpected solo jamming, especially on “Back to You.” And when opener Mary Lattimore and her enormous harp became the third instrument on a few tunes, the sound was taken to even greater ethereal planes.
The magnificent night began with Lattimore’s solo harp work. She entranced the audience with her rich and unexpected sounds. Following her was the singular force of Samara Lubelski, who powered through chatter from the bar with her expert guitar and one-of-a-kind haunting voice.