Pete Donnelly is Heartfelt

Pete Donnelly and the Wise Easy, along with headliners Winterpills, made everyone feel spirited and communal at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair’s Fletcher Hall Friday night as part of the Fall 2013 Outpost in the Burbs series.

Pete Donnelly gets the Fletcher Hall caught up.

Outpost in the Burbs reprised the Fletcher Hall Café series this fall, starting with Pete Donnelly and the Wise Easy opening up for Winterpills. Even before anyone got up and started performing, communal warmth and love was felt when Outpost volunteer Gina said that Outpost also provides hot meals to those who have no otherwise access to them. Outpost is a family, with new additional members each day, through audience, volunteering and even just plain old support.

Pete Donnelly (right) and the Wise Easy (left) opening up the show. Photo courtesy of Christine Byczkiewic.
Pete Donnelly (right) and the Wise Easy (left) opening up the show. Photo courtesy of Christine Byczkiewic.

Enter Pete Donnelly and his drummer, a.k.a “The Wise Easy.” He sincerely thanked the warm welcome by Gina with “Thank you, [that was a] beautiful introduction.”

Pete Donnelly performed “Something Happened,” a song written about the first time he and his wife met. There, he showcased strong Bon Jovi-esque vocals as the Wise Easy played his drums insanely, albeit in a rather enjoyable way.

Pete Donnelly also brought forth some new gems from his most recent album, Face the Bird, including “Delicate Elocution” and “Got Caught Up.” Old favorites included “Can’t Talk at All” and “Original Wonder.” He was also a member of NRBQ and the Figgs, and one Figgs song he graced the audience with was “Don’t Hurt Me Again.”

Mixing heartfelt, personal lyrics and imperfectly-tuned instruments is just Pete Donnelly’s way of embracing music and wanting others, both on stage and in audience, to do the same. After his set came an intermission, and many fans, new and seasoned, flocked (no pun intended) over to the merchandise tables to snap up CD’s, T-shirts, pins and other assorted goodies. Speaking of goodies, a special thanks also goes to everyone at Montclair Bread for taking time to provide delicious in-house baked treats and other refreshments for everyone.

It was now headliners Winterpills’ turn to bless everyone with their indie/folk sound. While they are normally a five-piece band, three of its members had other prior commitments, such as watching their children and other jobs. Thus, lead vocalist/guitarist Philip Price and vocalist/tambourine player Flora Reed performed as a duo, but it proved effective, as some of their efforts even elicited tears. After kicking off their set with “Take Away These Words,” Price made sure to give a personal nod to “the folks in the red shirts,” referring to the Outpost volunteers, who are the heart and soul of these great concerts because they work very hard to put them together and to give back to the community.

Two-fifths of Northampton, Massachusetts' Winterpills: Philp Price (left) and Flora Reed (right). Photo courtesy of Christine Byczkiewic.
Two-fifths of Northampton, Massachusetts’ Winterpills: Philp Price (left) and Flora Reed (right). Photo courtesy of Christine Byczkiewic.

Price and Reed’s vocals are both a perfect combination/accompaniment for the acoustic and electric guitars, along with the tambourine. Some other soulful gems they performed were: “A Benediction,” “Cranky,” “We’ll Bring You Down” and “Broken Arm.”

They also performed two covers. The first one was “One Day” by Sharon Van Etten, which Reed said she had spent the last couple of weeks listening to nonstop. The second cover was the Go-Betweens’ “Bye Bye Pride.” After that cover, Price had a little fun with the audience and had them try and guess what his favorite line of the song was. For those interested, his favorite line is “a teenage Rasputin takes the sting from a gin.” He then went on to say how much he loved Unitarian churches.

At this point, they are almost impossible not to love because in Unitarian churches, everyone from all walks of life are seen as equals, the way it should be. They even asked the audience if there was anything specific they wanted to hear. A fan requested “Pills for Sara,” which was happily fulfilled at the very end of the show.

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