I absolutely adored Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno's debut album back in 2021. It hit that perfect sweet spot for me of being a modern take on traditional folk. Since it was released in March of that year, I had been waiting for them to make it up to New England, but either they hadn't, or I completely missed it. (Could be either, it's been a weird two years.) As soon as I saw they had a few local dates, I knew I had to make it to one, and you just can't miss go wrong when it's at the legendary Club Passim.
I had high expectations for the show, but once they started their set with "Will You," I knew they would be exceeded. Leva and Calcagno were at such ease playing together and are just naturally charismatic performers that it didn't quite feel like watching friends play music on a back porch... but it also didn't quite feel like a formal performance. It was somewhere in between, like we were all watching something truly special just for us. Songs like "Leaving on Our Minds" and "Hollowed Hearts" are great recorded, but live they were just mesmerizing. It was also a bit of a family affair since Calcagno had some cousins in the audience and his dad watching on the livestream. Seeing how young the pair are, I can't imagine what they'll be like once they get a few more years of playing together. If you're into any variety of folk, you need to get out to see Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno next time they swing through.
With a name like Preacher & Daisy, I assumed that the opener for the evening would be another folk duo. It might be a duo at times, but I'm also seeing band photos online featuring four members. (There doesn't appear to be much information about the band online, especially current information.) Instead it was a solo performance of Sam Bailey, a friend and collaborator of Calcagno's. Bailey had a certain ridiculous level of charm, so that even forgetting lyrics made the performance that much more entertaining. He plays a certain style of folk rock that is right on the line of mainstream, but certain little quirks keep it more interesting and unique. He commented that he hasn't done music that much lately, so I'm looking forward to when he can focus on it a bit more since he has such a natural talent for it.