Ari Hest Gets Gospelly.
The quiet in the main sanctuary room of the Unitarian Universalist church belied what would be a night filled with energy.
The room was perfect for the intimate housing of 100 concert goers: some family and friends, some interested patrons, but all fans of Ari Hest and Dawn Mitschele.
Orange light filled the room, reflecting off the stained glass and reaching high into the rafters as singer and songwriter Dawn Mitschele took the stage. She introduced each song, allowing the audience a glimpse into the person behind the music.
Mitschele, armed with a bird-ornamented acoustic guitar, began the night with the hauntingly soothing “Lamplighter,” one of the more well-known tracks off her EP, Love Remains.
The near-ballad songs like “Lamplighter” were complemented by her more upbeat, bluesy numbers like “Whistle Stop” and “Once And Again Friend,” which held the audience who sang along, clapped their hands and tapped their feet, in rapt attention.
Though Mitschele currently lives in San Diego, she is a Jersey native. Her song “Float Like A Feather,” with its Jersey influenced imagery and sensibilities, was requested enthusiastically and received in the same manner.
Hest joined her on her song “My Love Has A Home,” a waltz about conquering loneliness.
“Being a [Jersey] native, it feels wonderful to work with Outpost in the Burbs. It’s a great way to support the community; my experience has been fantastic. Everyone here is so kind and welcoming,” said Mitschele after her set.
When Ari Hest took the stage, the room’s orange glow had given way to darkness, the only light on Hest, whose image was reflected in the grand piano beside him and in the sheen of his humble Gibson.
Ari Hest began the show like a true veteran: a simple “hey” before tapping on the body of his acoustic and singing the opening the lines of “Know Where,” a song off his new album The Fire Plays.
Ari Hest was joined by drummer Doug Yowell, who energized his set with smart drum work, shuffling with brushes, shaking a leg mounted foot shaker and even looping with a drum pad to give a full sound to Hest’s songs.
Chrissi Poland, described by Hest as a “singer, dancer and all around fine human being,” joined him on his songs “Erica,” “The Weight” and “Bird Never Flies,” her alto voice mixing with the crisp, deep tone of Hest’s to create ethereal harmonies.
Ari Hest has a particular knack with interacting with the audience. The awkward laughs quickly turned genuine as Hest really warmed himself up to them; Yowell contributed with his impression of the Irish record producer of The Fire Plays.
For Ari Hest’s song “Cranberry Lake,” Hest invited a female audience member on stage to sing a few verses. Denise Conn, a volunteer with Outpost in The Burbs for over three years, gladly accepted Hest’s invitation, not only singing the verses that Hest fed her on stage, but even adding her own harmony to Hest’s portions of the song.
The quality of Ari Hest’s music is only strengthened by his excellent rapport with the audience. Mike Zubritsky, a long-time fan of Hest, and 15-time attendee of his shows, had nothing but praise for the singer and songwriter: “This is my first time hearing the new album live, but I’ve seen him before; he always delivers.”
After the show, Hest expressed his pleasure in his third Outpost in the Burbs performance, saying, “I’m happy to be part of this kind of charity. I enjoy playing shows for them because these aren’t your typical music venues, there’s more of an intimate vibe.”
Both Hest and Mitschele signed CD’s at the end of their sets at the vendor table in the back of the venue.
Join Outpost in the Burbs for their upcoming shows. The Kennedys will be joined by guest Edward Rodgers April 12 at Fletcher Hall. Tickets are $22 in advance and $27 on the day of the show. To purchase tickets, visit Keil’s Pharmacy on 732 Valley Road (cash or check only) or Studio042 Super Business Printer on 423 Bloomfield Avenue (cash or check only). Additionally, you can purchase tickets online at ticketweb.