The musicians in the Adam Ezra Group and Sirsy are friends, perhaps drawn to each other because they shave a rare commonality in the music industry. The Adam Ezra Group, which formed in 2003 in Boston Massachusetts, and Sirsy, formed in 2000 in Albany, New York, have grown national audiences through their work ethic and road work. Both groups tour constantly without sponsors or record company support, and the bulk of the music merchandise that keeps them on the road is self-crafted. That is not to say that these groups would not enjoy or benefit from a major-label recording contract or a corporate sponsor. That may happen some day. In the meantime, both groups will continue working outside the traditional economic constructs of the touring talent industry.
The Adam Ezra Group and Sirsy also are similar in that both entities are piloted by singer-songwriters who compose from the heart. They write insightful lyrics that start with the personal and encompass the universal. The images in the words articulate the musicians’ lived high and lows, such that the clarity of these sentiments resonate profoundly with the lived experiences of their band’s followers. With no major-industry engines promoting them, these songs do not gain mainstream radio traction or land on film soundtracks, yet are highly anticipated and esteemed by a growing under-the-radar fan base.
Sirsy consists of a husband and wife team, Melanie Krahmer (vocals, drums, flute) and Rich Libutti (guitar, bass). Live, Krahmer also plays bass on a keyboard with her drumstick and Libutti plays bass pedals with his feet. The show at the Loft was billed as acoustic, however, which meant that for this performance the duo accompanied themselves only with an acoustic guitar and flute. Midway through the set, Adam Ezra joined the band to duet with Krahmer. The closing song was an emotional singalong, featuring an optimistic chorus of strength that originated from Krahmer twice surviving cancer.
The Adam Ezra Group presently consists of Adam Ezra (vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica), Corinna Smith (fiddle, accordion, guitar), Poche Ponce (bass), and Alex Martin (drums). The band performed a tight set that embraced folk storytelling, soulful singing, rock energy, and pop brightness. Ezra’s vocals were gruff and passionate, delivering fiery power to his lyrics. Smith’s fiddle and accordion leads injected romantic charm and offered a graceful balance to Ezra’s intensity. Highlights included “Pocket Full of Seashells,” a folk ballad Ezra said he wrote when he was preparing to become a first-time father, and another song that he explained that he wrote as a sequel to Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” in which Ezra further examined the human condition of the fictitious protagonists. Ezra invited the members of Sirsy onstage for three songs, then led his own band mates in singing a gospel-sounding song a capella, rich in crisp harmonies. To end the night, the four musicians gathered with their instruments unplugged at a table in the center of the room to lead an audience singalong of the Beatles’ “Let it Be.”
Ezra closed the night by meeting fans in the hall outside the room, encouraging everyone to take a CD, whether or not they contributed to the donation box. This action capped an evening that felt like cozy hangout with one’s most intimate musical friends. The Adam Ezra Group and Sirsy succeeded in offering warmth and mindfulness on a winter night in New York City.