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Gorgeous Performance by Aoife O'Donovan

Venue: One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME ~ June 13, 2012 ~

Jun 18, 2012
Kimmy Sophia Brown

One Longfellow Square was rapidly filling up as I arrived to hear Aoife (pronounced, “Eefa”) O’Donovan, this past Wednesday night. The twenty-eight-year-old lead singer of the band, Crooked Still, was on the second stop of a tour with a different band with a bit of a different sound. I loved a beautiful duet that I heard between Aoife and Heather Masse on a recent airing of Prairie Home Companion, so I was very excited to see her.  The audience was mostly in their forties and fifties but there was a wide range of ages present.

Aoife O'DonovanShe was petite, wearing a little summer dress, with her blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. She sounds a bit huskier than Alison Krauss, but rivaled her in sweetness and emotional expressiveness. They began with a traditional tune, “Trials, Troubles and Tribulations”, and then played one of her compositions (which ironically, was recorded by Alison Krauss), entitled, “Lay My Burden Down”.

The band was beyond excellent, with some show stopping solos by lead guitarist, Ryan Scott. His guitar playing was intense and frenetic but never lost control. Jed Wilson’s eyes were closed as his fingers hovered over the keyboard like electric mixers. Charlie Rose, (no, not that Charlie Rose), made the pedal steel howl, Jacob Silver was smooth and constant on the bass and Robin McMillan held it all together with drums.

Some of the evening reminded me of the jazziness of Joni Mitchell’s live album, Shadows and Light*, and some of it was more like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt or John Prine. I loved the little shake of the head she did when she was really digging the music. As much as I enjoyed her beautiful presence and the obvious talent of the band, I was dismayed because I could hardly hear her. She had a delicate voice, smoky and gentle, and sometimes she was engulfed by the power of the band. I hope they balance the sound a bit better as the tour continues because her singing was too good to be missed.

She taught us some words to her song, “Oh Mama”, and we joined in together for a sing along, which always creates a more intimate feeling. She ended with a ripping version of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Letter”.

She recently recorded “The Goat Rodeo Sessions” with Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and Yo Yo Ma. You can catch some of those studio sessions on YouTube. I got chills viewing Here and Heaven. Visit her website at

Press Photo of Aoife O'Donovan from
* Joni ventured from her folk roots into jazz and toured in 1979, releasing a live album in 1980. It featured Pat Matheny on lead guitar, Jaco Pastorius on bass, Don Alias on drums, Lyle Mays on keyboards and Michael Brecker on saxophone.

For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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