Sholan Farms, Leominster, MA
October 8, 2016
Two or three years ago, I found Lori & Fred’s music online. If I’m not mistaken, they were playing as part of the summer concert series in my town, and I checked out the various performers’ music when the schedule was released to decide who I might enjoy seeing. Though I wasn’t able to attend the show, I was impressed by their music. Notably, I thought the song “Mystery” was something quite special, so I downloaded it and played it regularly; it remains a song I keep on the rather limited playlist on my phone.
My first attempt to see them perform live was a concert for which I had purchased tickets weeks in advance before it was cancelled due to a snowstorm in the winter of 2014/15. Schedules haven’t matched up again until yesterday, when they played an afternoon set during Sholan Farms’ Harvest Celebration Weekend.
It was a beautiful day for a concert. The rain held off until a few minutes into my drive home after the show. Lori and Fred played a mix of covers and originals, all suiting their style, which is relatively unique among widely-performing, popular local artists. I’d call it soft adult contemporary. You might label it easy listening, though I’d beg to differ, as the vocal dynamics and interesting guitar-picking place it in the more broadly-appealing AC category, with the potential for the occasional breakout, crossover pop hit. For those of us whose musical tastes defy category, though, they’re simply a pair of outstanding singers, songwriters, and musicians.
Lori’s sweet, powerful, versatile high voice harmonizes perfectly with Fred’s vocals. And when Fred sings vocal lead, he showcases his crisp. mid-range voice with an occasional vocal growl dropped in for good measure. Musically, Lori’s engaging piano-keyboardwork is augmented ably by Fred’s crisp riffs, often subtle, always adding texture to the songs. Often, Fred spices up slow-tempo songs with intricate, dancing soft guitarwork. Of course, I intentionally went to see this gig because I was impressed with what I had heard online, so I was hardly surprised when Lori and Fred delivered.
The duo mixed covers with originally during their performance. Lori’s vocals on “Crazy Love,” a standout cover, contained a soulful, almost gospelly sound, while there was maybe a hint of blues-gospel in Fred’s guitarwork.
I do, of course, love a good original. On “All Comes Round,” Lori and Fred swap lead vocal responsibility back and forth, as Lori’s sweet power pairs well with Fred’s vocal richness (and a well-placed growl). “Good Harbor”, meanwhile, is a sweet, hopeful, relaxing song about love.
Lori and Fred closed with “True,” a lush piano sound on the keys in this smooth song that recalls ’70s-style adult contemporary-edged pop; it showcases the particular phrasing style from that era’s singer-songwriter hits.
In the end, the concert was well worth the drive. Lori and Fred put on an entertaining, laid-back show. They mingled with the crowd during their break and at the end of their gig. And Sholan Farms was a friendly host for the day, with a food trailer providing lunch and a chance to snag a little cider at the farm store. I look forward to catching Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli again in the future; and I love an afternoon, outdoor performance, so I’ll keep an eye out for future live music at this particular orchard in coming years, as well.
Lori & Fred’s next date, per the tour page of their website, is 3 PM on Saturday, October 29th at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA. Then they have a gig the evening of November 27th at Parish Center For the Arts in Westford, MA. See the duo’s website for more gigs scheduled in December and beyond, in addition to any new shows they add in the meantime.
Sholan Farms’ Harvest Celebration Weekend continues today and tomorrow. The orchard/farm has entertainment each day. Magic from Magic By George began at 12:30 today and dixieland swing from the Lou & Jan Borelli Duo will commence at 2:00. Steve Charette Magic and Comedy will provide entertainment tomorrow. The farm also has “eclectic acoustic” music from Ragged Heroes scheduled for next Sunday, October 16th. See Sholan Farms’ entertainment calendar for more information.