“Nothing like a song”: a night of kinship and love at LA’s historically-marked Lodge Room.
BY SUSAN MOLL
Azure Ray’s first live appearance in five years happened not in Omaha, not in Birmingham, but more than 2000 miles west of their onetime Southern base, and sold out one of the newest and best music venues in Los Angeles’ eastern quadrant. Dedicated in 1923 as the Highland Park Masonic Temple, the Renaissance Revival space, which occupies spot #282 on the roster of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments, reopened as the stunning Lodge Room after a lavish renovation. It was an occasion many traveled long distances for on this, an unseasonably chilly winter night made to burn and shiver.
Much has happened in the time since Azure Ray last performed: Maria Taylor, now a Californian, settled down into marriage and motherhood and made two more solo records, Something About Knowing and In the Next Life. Orenda Fink cut another solo album as well, Blue Dream, and, more recently, a second O+S outing titled You Were Once The Sun, Now You’re The Moon. Their sisterly kinship is as strong and as true as ever, and the devotion of their fans has never wavered. The two brought along a three-piece string section to a stage festooned with candles and white lilies. (Bonus: cocktails in cans!)
Also on the evening’s bill: Blake Sennett and a revived Elected, silent since their 2011 Vagrant release Bury Me In My Rings. Former Rilo Kiley bandmate Mike Bloom chipped in harmonica, lap steel and guitar… Whispertown, led by onetime Elected collaborator Morgan Nagler, recently concluded a tour with M. Ward and will soon be a fixture on this year’s summer festival circuit as well. Its fourth album, I’m a Man, is out now courtesy of the Graveface imprint…
While there’s no word on future Azure Ray recordings at this point, Taylor is set to embark on a solo tour of Europe next month. Fink has teamed up with her sister, Christine, and several Saddle Creek alumni in High Up, whose first full-length, You Are Here, its first LP, will arrive Feb. 23 via Team Love. In the meantime, feast your eyes: