It was a night of high tones and low drones (sitar and otherwise) across the beautiful acoustic spectrum of the Jay Farrar Duo and Johnny Irion at the Lobero on Tuesday, May 22. Irion opened the evening with his uplifting lilt and lightness, complimenting the audience’s call-and-response harmonies (“You guys sound just like the Eagles,” he said) and regaling us with funny tales of lost Appalachian travelers. As the set went on, the great Alan Kozlowski provided sitar resonance and Zach Gill lent graceful piano, until Irion’s powerful, un-miced final number, “I Am This Mountain,” ended things on a high note.
The headlining Farrar Duo shone in their deep acoustics, particularly through the phenomenal multi-instrumentalist work of Farrar’s other half, Gary Hunt. He wove a velvety fiddle through songs such as “Strength and Doubt,” counter-playing Farrar’s Midwestern melancholy. Perhaps a bit too plains atmosphere for this reviewer at times, the less-dynamic numbers bordered on a slogging, sepia gloom that felt a bit plodding and undifferentiated. But with numbers like the powerful closer of “White Freightliner Blues,” it was their conversational guitar exchange, and Farrar’s unflagging bluesman cool, that added up to a quietly enthralling set in all.