Cafe Nine Welcomes Spirit Family Reunion
A few years ago, I traveled down to Cambridge, MA to see Spirit Family Reunion perform at the Sinclair. While having a drink with a friend across the street from the venue, the lights flickered for a brief moment. Moments later the street was filled with fire trucks. Not thinking too much about it, we paid our bill and headed across the street to enter the Sinclair. The group of people outside of the venue included the band members. The fire department kicked everybody out of the Sinclair because there was no power. The show had been cancelled. We drove over an hour, paid 20 bucks for parking, and a couple beers. We decided to make the best of it and we rented some commuter bikes and toured the city. At the end of the night, we popped into a pub for a bite to eat. I ran into the washboard player, Stephen Weinheimer. We started chatting and he kicked down a copy of the print they had created for the event. It was a nice gesture and showed the kind of character the band members have.
When I saw that Spirit Family Reunion was going to be playing in Connecticut, I knew I had to make an attempt to get down there. With family in the area, it was easy to make arrangements for an evening out. A couple days before the show, weather predictions of a bad snow storm were showing up in the news. They were calling for 18-24 inches. Following the forecast, I decided that I wasn’t going to let a little snow ruin a good time.
We left late morning on the day of the show and encountered some greasy roads in NH. As we drove south, the roads dried up. We arrived in Connecticut and caught up with family. The show was at a small pub called Cafe Nine in New Haven, CT. We got to the venue 30 minute before doors opened and found a parking spot right at the door. We decided to check the door and we were able to get right in and grab a table. The beer selections included a few locally brewed IPAs and of course the popular and affordable PBR.
The opening act, Ellison Jackson, was a group of young musicians with a folky sound. The guitarist had a blues sound and would occasionally take a short solo. The lead singer, with vocals reminiscent of Bob Dylan, also played guitar and stuck mostly to rhythm. After a short set, Spirit Family Reunion took the stage.
The 5-piece band wasted no time in jumping right into their set and playing some familiar songs from their 2 albums. They also introduced a few new songs which they have been recording in the studio this winter. The highlight for me were when they played “When My Name is Spoken” after I hollered it out. It was a high energy show in an intimate setting. The floor vibrated with foot stomping patrons and their set ended far too soon. The band exited the building for a short time before re-entering and making their way into the center of the crowd with their instruments. Nick led a sing along to John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
After the show, Nick took some time to chat with me. I thanked him for his efforts in making a difference in social and environmental issues such as the North Dakota pipeline, the building of a wall, and a migration ban. He talked about the current political climate and how it is affecting his music. He seemed to think that it is changing the mood and feel of his music. I also asked him why they were sticking to house parties this spring and staying out of public venues. He said that they wanted to reconnect with their fan base and give them more intimate performances. I can certainly respect that and am excited to be able to see them at a house party next month. They have a total of 10 house parties lined up on the east coast.
I said my goodbyes and made my way outside. The washboard player, Stephen, was outside talking to some fans. I said hello and he said, “We have met before, haven’t we?”