After 20 years spent focusing on solo careers, the members of folk group Cry Cry Cry — Richard Shindell, Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky — have come back together for a short reunion tour this spring. The group visited Charlottesville on Saturday night and packed the Jefferson Theater for a performance of both original songs and well-arranged covers. For the concert-goer who has seen their fair share of uptempo indie rock shows at the Jefferson, CCC’s slower, lush and harmony-driven arrangements were a nice change of pace for the historic concert hall.
Armed with a bevy of guitars and stringed instruments, the trio launched into their set with a cover of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “The Kid,” followed by an adaptation of a Shindell original called “Reunion Hill.” This pattern continued throughout the night — a few covers bookended by an original from Williams, Shindell or Kaplansky. One of the three would usually take the melody and majority of the lyrics, with the other two adding in harmonies at key times. With such a large and diverse catalog like that of CCC, their material covered a lot of subjects — Shindell’s tune “Satellites” discussed political unrest in his home territory of Buenos Aires, while “The Kid” talked about the challenges of childhood.
As is typical of folk music, no song seemed to play around an individual ego despite Shindell’s songs taking up a hefty portion of the setlist. Instead, the group was simply happy to be harmonizing with each other once more. Their chemistry was visible onstage, both in their music and in their interactions between songs. Williams seemed especially comfortable among her old singing partners, telling stories, cracking jokes and doing a great job of engaging with an audience eager to enjoy a nostalgic night. For their part, the audience was one of the most involved audiences the Jefferson may have ever seen, with much more applause and vocal affirmations per capita than this reviewer is used to at a concert — they might put a lot of more famous artists’ fans to shame.
Each performer brought something valuable to the table — Williams with her solid rhythm guitar skills and lilting soprano, Kaplansky with her beautiful and steady alto voice and Shindell with his lovely baritone and truly impeccable guitar work. While there were a few points of musical disconnection between the trio, the majority of the performance was a reminder of why this group was so beloved 20 years ago. Buoyed by the excellent sound engineering from the venue staff, the balanced and haunting harmonies that CCC had perfected long ago shone through during every song.
It’s no secret that the Jefferson Theater usually books concerts that appeal to the young crowd at the University, but CCC’s genuine performance and dedicated following proved that folk acts can certainly succeed in the space as well. They may only be reunited for this spring, but the trio outdid themselves in their trip to Charlottesville.