LIVE: The Sweetback Sisters @ Caffe Lena, 9/22/11

The Sweetback Sisters
The Sweetback Sisters

Caffé Lena usually hosts their world-class Open-Mic night on Thursdays, but once in a while a great band or singer-songwriter is only available on that night so the powers that be shift gears and grab the opportunity.

Last Thursday evening that’s what happened when the Brooklyn-based Sweetback Sisters brought their mesmerizing old-school style of country, bluegrass and honky-tonk to the venerated Saratoga Springs coffeehouse.

Classic tunes by the likes of Patsy Cline, the Davis Sisters and Dwight Yoakam were performed side-by-side with a handful of the bandmembers’ sparkling original tunes, including “Heart Of My Mind,” “I Should Have Said Nothing At All” and “Run Home and Cry,.”

What is interesting is that the Sweetback Sisters is made up of six young musicians fronted by vocalists Emily Miller and Zara Bode, whose melodic harmonies are reminiscent of ‘50s-era country vocalists. Fiddler Jesse Milnes, electric-twang guitarist Ross Bellenoit, upright bassist Peter Bitenc and drummer Stefan Amidon round out the sextet.

On that rainy and muggy Thursday night, the Sweetback Sisters transformed Caffé Lena into a Nashville honky-tonk club complete with a handful of dancers doing country-style two-steps in the aisles.

And, yes, the Open-Mic is back on the calendar again for tonight…

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Ross Bellenoit and Jesse Milnes
Ross Bellenoit and Jesse Milnes
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