Saturday, 6.27.2009

Laura K. Balke at Lazy Daze Coffee House

“A Truly Unexpected Pleasure”

By D. Triere

I was relaxing under the awning at Lazy Daze Coffee House, drinking a coffee and entertaining myself by watching all of the foot traffic of young adults milling about while waiting for a multiple-band show to start later in the evening at the Irving Theater (adjacent to Lazy Daze).

There was also a lot of vehicular traffic in the parking lot behind the coffee house and theater, in that the bands were in-loading their equipment for the show. You could even hear a band going through a sound check inside the theater.

Nonetheless, around seven o’clock, this young, strikingly-pretty woman shows up with guitar case in hand and proceeds onto Lazy Daze’s outdoor deck (I had forgotten that Lazy Daze had a musician scheduled to play that evening: Laura K. Balke).

I thought to myself, this’ll be interesting to see and hear her play with all the surrounding traffic and noise. I hope she brought her own PA. Surprisingly, she didn’t; more surprisingly, she didn’t need one.

I go back to watching all of the foot traffic. I only gradually become aware of the sounds of an acoustic guitar being played and a strong, clear female voice singing.

“she is going to go places”

I wander over to the deck to watch and listen. This young woman — turns out she’s 22 — was standing on the deck with her back to the rear entrance of the theater, simply playing her acoustic guitar and singing these decidedly original songs, seemingly unaffected by all of the goings-on around her.

Ms. Balke’s performance was simply unassumingly elegant. Amazingly, it seemed to grow quieter as she played and sang. The songs she was performing from her debut album, Souvenirs, seemed to draw everyone into her world, almost without being aware of it, songs of mature, subtle sophistication much belying her young age.

She easily held the crowd with her performance for over an hour, and then as the traffic and noise peaked (since it was almost time for the show in the theater to start), she decided to continue it inside the coffee house — a substantial group of listeners followed her — where she played for at least another half hour.

I would strongly suggest that you follow this young musician — she is going to go places — and I would also strongly suggest you consider purchasing her album. My hope is that, before she becomes really big, she’ll play at Lazy Daze Coffee house again.