A warm sweet wind blew into the Lansing folk music scene Saturday night, when Sari Brown brought her unique music and style to town for the first time. Well known in her own Ann Arbor/Detroit, as well as around the northern extreme of Lower Michigan, Sari made her Lansing debut at Magdalena’s Tea House, January 8th.
A full house, spread out in the cozy red and gold tea room, made the energetic young folksinger feel welcome as she plunged into her set, kicking off with “The Magic of the Jaw,” a pensive, poetic, nostalgic relflection on childhood. The title refers to the memory of feeling “the Magic of the Jaw/before I knocked those teeth out,” which put the listener directly into the mind of a tiny Sari Brown when she first discovered the wonder of her own jaw and all that it could do, including, as she now did standing before us, singing.
And that’s the way it went as the audience fell under the thrall of a young poet, weaving images and ideas and associations into a dreamlike cascade, all told in a voice sometimes sweet and giggly like a little girl, or dreamy and haunting like a jaded lover, crooning, bellowing, shouting, and whispering through a series of musical episodes, accompanied by a wide variety of guitar styles.
“Rely on Miracles” pensively reminded us that “nothing is logical” or necessarily makes sense and we are compelled by such reliance because “You don't know until you know.” A boogie-woogie “Your Shoes, Too” celebrated exuberant young love. In the happy romp, “I Captured the Castle,” we watched as Sari took over the world. (“Look who’s king now....I’m wearing your royal robes....”) In a waltz written for anew love (“You are the snowflake that floats... You are the way that leaves fall... You are the last kiss of the night”) listeners were treated to a share of the ardent sweetness of young passion.
Sari Brown, now 17 years old, has been compared to Bob Dylan since she was 15 or younger. Like Dylan, Sari brings a wealth of poetic power to her songwriting and takes the listener on unexpected journeys of creative depth, full of wisdom and foolishness, common sense and mystery. Unlike him, she is open and engaging. She has a lovely voice with a wide range. And she is a deft, articulate and creative guitarist.
Besides her original songs Sari performed Dan Bern’s “New American Language” in which Dan says, “I have a dream of a new pop music/that tells the truth with a good beat and some nice harmony.” That’s the kind of music Sari Brown brought with her to Lansing.
Also appearing on the bill at Magdalena’s was Jen Sygit, well known to Lansing folk music fans. Jen played after Sari and captivated the audience with her accomplished songwriting, smooth, sweet swinging and masterful guitar. Sari and Jen each have CDs available at Elderly Instruments and websites at saribrown.com and jensygit.com.
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