Thoma and Daly–Magic!

7-17-2016—Iraklio, Crete, Greece

I made it to my Kelly Thoma/Ross Daly show. It was magic. It took place on a warm beautiful night in a cool little outdoor theater that is built into Iraklio’s old Venetian walls, between to walls (in the old mote?). The place holds about 300 people and was around 90 percent full. One of the first things I noticed was the age range of the crowd. Not counting the little babies a few people brought, there were people from their early teens to their eighties. It was a wonderful crowd too, laid back, happy—the vibe running thru the place quite gentle and loving. This openness extended to the performers.

Kelly Thoma, Ross Daly, and the other musicians were wandering thru the slowly-growing crowd between the sound check and the show, talking to friends and fans. (Daly was cutting quite a regal figure at this point. He’s got to be around 6’-5”, and he was dressed—as he often seems to be—all in white linen, which, when combined with his long flowing white hair, was quite striking).

The concert showcased Thoma’s 7 Fishes album, which is (in my humble, though of course totally correct opinion) a great set of edgy, densely-arranged compositions. This showed with the large ensemble that she put together (most or perhaps all of ththe m played on the album). In addition to her on lyras, Daly played lyras, tarhus, and a small saz. There was also an upright bassist, a cellist, two hand drummers, and two other gentlemen, one of whom played cumbas saz, a tarhu, and oud (he might have played a louto too—I don’t remember). The other played saz, guitar, and hurdy-gurdy, and on one tune a drum (there was also another lyra player who replaced Daly on a couple numbers). It was a excellent group of musicians and they truly brought her pieces to life. (I thought the drummers especially good. I’ve heard them both before—though not together—and they’ve never sounded less than great.) Thoma and Daly were the stars, though …

They are such amazing players. They also play off each other incredibly well. In fact, for me the highlight of the night was when they played a lyra duet together: alone they hit depths that eluded the full band (near the end of this duet fireworks from a completely unrelated event beyond the out wall began going off—a stunning moment). This duet also helped me to see that I’d really like it to hear Thoma’s compositions arranged for smaller ensembles. Though it was a great show, I think that certain melodic content gets lost with so many players involved—I’d love that see where her tunes would go given a bit more space and silence.
Notes:

With last night’s show my trip seemed to break like a wave—it reached its zenith and suddenly ended; I exhaled and realized there is nothing more I need to do here. If I could fly home tomorrow I would. But I gave another ten full days to deal with. This is a problem I’m still deciding how to negotiate (as I sit here in Iraklio, a place I really don’t want to be) …

Hearing tarhus live for the first time kind of blew my mind. They might be the richest most evocative instruments I’ve ever experienced; the colors, textures, and general depth they can project are staggering. I must learn more about them …

Still no photos. I bought an adapter in the Athens airport yesterday that I was sure would work. It didn’t. Twenty euros wasted—bah!

Yesterday I did a kind of of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles thing to get here. I took a little boat from Telendos to the Kalymnos mainland. Then I hopped in a taxi to the airport. After my flight I jumped on a bus. Then I walked about a quarter mile. Weird day. I woke up on a tiny backwater isle and by that night I was in a sophisticated urban setting at a concert of world-renowned musicians. I have my limitations, but don’t let it be said I don’t cover a lot of ground (in every sense) …