Written by Kelly Besaw
Photos by Chris Besaw
One thing I can say about myself is that I like a lot of different genres of music. I enjoy punk songs with catchy beats, old school metal ballads, good old rock n roll and even love songs. But what really moves me are songs by musicians who truly have something to say. Songs that can make you feel empowered, enraged and even sad.
I was fortunate enough to spend Friday evening at Gorham Brothers Music in Syracuse with a group of musicians who have a lot to say. Opening act, local band, the Street Rats delivered their brand of fast paced, sarcastic punk rock music. The Street Rats were followed by Syracuse based Hardcore Punk band One Last Shot.
Then, Louise Distras, who came all the way from London England, took the stage next. I have to admit that I had listened to her album and really enjoyed it but was blown away by her live performance. Louise is on her first U.S. tour promoting the stateside release of her debut album “Dreams from the Factory Floor.” Louise reminds me of a young Joan Jett: gritty, raw, full of gut wrenching emotion with a laid back fuck it all attitude. Her music is poetry on fire. She sings about the follies of the working class, the few who hold all the power and wealth, classism, racism and discrimination. I am confident we will be hearing more from Louise she clearly has a lot to say. In the meantime you should check out her page and her album at www.loiusedistras.co.uk
Up next was headliner, folk punk troubadour, Bryan McPherson. Bryan, who was born and raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts, is the living, breathing, harmonica playing manifestation of protest music. Bryan takes his observations of the world and belts them out with brutal honesty and unfiltered emotion. From the very first chords and words of his set, his audience was captivated.
Bryan is on tour promoting the release of his new album “Wedgewood.” “Wedgewood” was inspired by McPherson’s experiences singing at the Occupy Oakland movement. As you can imagine, the album tackles a lot of issues that are relevant and should be on people’s minds. You can check out Bryan’s new album here: http://bryanmcpherson.com/.
Bryan got the audience pumped up with “Don’t Terrorize Me,” “OFD” and his call to action tune “Here We Go.” Fists were pumping and the audience was singing along. He rounded out his set list with some of my favorites such as “Dangerous Friends,” 100 Cigarettes,” and several songs from “Wedgewood including “Wasted World” and “Born on a Highway.” He ended the set list with a Syracuse favorite “I See A Flag.” No one set any money aflame because we were inside a nice music store. However, that has been known to happen during this song at other Syracuse venues (a special thanks to Jerd Styles for starting the trend).
Bryan played an amazing 90 minutes of material and I would have listened to 90 more. I want to thank all the musicians who played for having something to say and for keeping us focused on what’s real, what’s important and reminding us that we are all “stronger than we know.”
Here is a video of Bryan performing his song “OFD” at Gorham Brothers Music: click here