With summer in full swing and restrictions going out the window, Colorado has had a continuous influx of incredible entertainment, with many artists selecting the Rocky Mountains for their tour openers and album release parties. Friday saw this theme continued at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins with the talented souls of Rachael & Vilray employing the intimate venue to kick off their summer tour. With 11 dates over the next three weeks, this evening’s entertainment was billed as a sit-down show with a capacity of 300 and nary a seat was squandered as the music community continued to take full advantage of every great opportunity to congregate and share in the auditory experience.
The dynamic duo delivered 18 tunes in a single hour set that included most of the inaugural album as well as covers from yesteryear by The Mills Brothers, American pianist Louis Alter, and familiar numbers including “Try a Little Tenderness” and the Latin love ballad “Nosotros”. All the pieces were played with such proficiency that to the naïve ear there was no distinction between originals and the creations of others, both performed in an unhurried manner and handled with care. The banter that connected the musical pieces was welcomed by all and initiated such a level of comfort that at times the audience engaged the performers openly with questions and comments rather than passively taking it all in, an experience Rachael and Vilray candidly accepted and kept rolling throughout the night.
For those who do not know the group, Vilray is an original artist based in New York City who shares his gifts with the planet on a number of levels. From guitar to graphic art, this gentleman exudes talent, creating original compositions and commissioned works with both the pick and paper. His playing is effortless, and his ability is only shadowed by his tremendous personality, wit, and smile that light and fill any room he enters. Rachael Price is best known as the pipes for the indie pop rock group with a lot of soul known as Lake Street Dive. Always delivering regardless of which stage she finds herself on, her performance last night was exceptional due to its stripped-down fashion that truly exemplified her vocal range and control. The two met while studying music at the New England Conservatory in Boston and the world has certainly become a better place for it.
Their two voices meld and complement each other in a way that short of sounding overindulgent, were made for each other. Their shared love of jazz, swing, and pop from the early 20th century made them fast friends and has fueled what many hope will be a long-standing shared experience on the stage.
From a technical standpoint, the two genuinely capture the sound of the thirties and forties in both harmony and meter, while viscerally, their delivery warms the heart with a purity that is all flow and no show. The banter and comedy between the two reads genuine and comes off more like two friends having the time of their life rather than schtick, while still maintaining an air of authenticity for the entertainment period from which their show is derived. For any fan of the voices and sounds of the likes of Fitzgerald, Goodman, Mercer, and Day, this dyad does that era justice and creates a space that is their own and makes an hour seem like so much more.