Review: Rachel Baiman at Club Cafe

Tuesday night I went to see Rachel Baiman play at Club Cafe. I can’t remember the last time I was at Club Cafe, maybe when Amy Ray did her last solo tour? But I have seen a lot of really good musicians there over the years.

I have a love-hate relationship with Club Cafe. The love is that it is a very small, intimate club where you can really get up close and personal with an artist. The love was that you could also eat there during the show and that the food was really good. I asked the bartender about food, and he gestured toward a clip hanging on the wall containing potato chips. He explained that during covid the chef left and never came back. Like many things covid turned upside down, this was sad to hear. I hope at some point they can get a new chef. Afterall it is Club Cafe!

The hate is that the stage is literally feet away from the bar, and upon occasion, people at the bar will loudly talk throughout the show. That’s a big pet peeve of mine, and once long ago when I was a little younger and a little more hot-headed, I would occasionally remind people at the bar that a music show was going on.  

Unfortunately (or from my perspective fortunate) the talking at the bar wasn’t an issue at this show because it was poorly attended — there were maybe 20/25 people there. Which was a shame because of the caliber of the musicians. Let me add that when Sue first asked me if I was interested in attending and reviewing this show, my initial reaction was “No way.” I’m not a country music fan. But after looking Ms. Baiman up on Youtube and listening to a bunch of her songs, my perspective changed and I agreed to go. I’m glad I did. Part of life is experiencing new things outside one’s comfort zone.

The opener was a female musician named Ol Whitetail who currently lives on the North Side! where Sue and I live. She was very charming and played guitar and sang country/folk inflected music. Her stage presence was shy, but her songs were about growing up in the country and detailed “cricks,” wildlife and the sometimes illiberal politics that have overtaken country folk. Look her up, and support her, I understand that she plays around Pittsburgh, and we have to support a North Sider!!

I had never heard of Rachel Baiman, but her music was political…the divisions in America, love compared to a recluse spider bite! missing her sister who moved from Nashville, where Ms. Baiman currently resides, to Colorado to the debt that bad behavior can create in someone’s life. Baiman was accompanied by her friend who played bass guitar and she played the guitar, the fiddle and the banjo. Her singing voice had a timelessness about it, and reminded me of some of the older female country artists. Her guitar playing, fiddle playing and banjo playing were just masterful.

I really enjoyed the show and afterward, I bought her latest album, Common Nation of Sorrow. I own a turntable, so this Sunday, when Sue and I started a tradition of listening to music on Sundays, I’m going to put it on. I recommend her music…Her politics seem to be Liberal and I think we should support women artists whenever possible! 

Also, next time she comes to Pittsburgh, I hope more than 25 people attend her show. 

Rachel Baiman

Ol Whitetail


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