Resolve to See Sirsy In 2022
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Local music legend Sirsy shifted from their usual electric rock sound to acoustic with ease for a show at Caffe Lena on January 1, 2022, welcoming in the new year with joy, passion, and story.
The local duo initially greeted the audience with a verse from “Thank You for Being a Friend.” With a deep nod to Betty White, Melanie Krahmer and husband Rich Libutti’s vibe was celebratory of their love of the comedienne who recently passed away. Sharing stories of watching White perform in Golden Girls and also on White’s prank show, Krahmer’s reverence for Betty White quickly morphed into humor as Libutti joked that their song “Cry Baby” was “really about Warren Beatty.” There was no doubting that this couple was about to tell jokes as much as showcase their wild talent, sharing stories and humbly leaning into the silliness of their natures.
Sirsy originated and still calls Albany home, and began performing locally and nationally in 2000. And while they perform over 250+ shows every year, there was a down home friendliness to Krahmer and Libutti as they shared their inside jokes, stories behind songs, and clear admiration for one another.
Time seemed to pass without any awareness as the duo played “Astronaut,” a song that showcased Krahmer’s vocal control and wildly unique ability to shift voices. From there, the duo sang about Krahmer’s deceased grandmother, celebrating the happiness both felt in her presence when she was alive. The lyrics brought images to mind of a small but fierce Italian grandmother whose cooking and passion for her grandchildren reassured them constantly of her love. Krahmer smiled recalling her grandmother yelling at dancers blocking her view at early concerts before they moved the grandmother “Mary” upstairs to watch from a balcony of a nearby now extinct venue; the audience seemed also inclined to forgive the chiding grandmother even though she was disrupting her granddaughter’s disco band’s purpose. Charmed by the story, the audience members were smiling under their masks, with deep creases around eyes and foreheads as they clapped and chortled.
The night at Caffe Lena was filled with stories of family, love, and heartache, including covers of familiar songs (Coldplay’s “Fix You” was an early melting moment for the audience), and originals like “Uncomfortable.” Krahmer joked she only talks about “Uncomfortable” in therapy, but she clearly pulled off the edgy anger with a sexy sound and made it appear effortless. Also effortless was Libutti’s guitar riff, which raised applause after his solo.
The duo moved to the piano for “Gold” and “Goner,” two songs with very different vibes and sounds. Sirsy’s magic is in its songwriting; the lyrics and music are constantly challenging listeners to break out of one style and try on another. Somehow, Krahmer’s vocals shift without hesitation to match each new sound. Her father noted this as well when she first played him her song “Fireflies,” to which he smiled and told her it was magical.
She also plays piano, flute, kazoo (yes, kazoo!), and wears a tambourine on her ankle. Singing and typically playing percussion in her electric sets, Krahmer was more fluid tonight on stage with the acoustic music, lending her talents to the quieter sound and revealing so much more than usual as a result.
As she chuckled through the end of “Goner,” I realized I wished I could have dinner with this couple and share stories about their life together. “Goner” is a love song, but starts with rage; the lyrics describe not liking someone’s face, but eventually owning not being able to resist the lover, too. It was in that moment that one could imagine them arguing over all the little things that make marriages real.
From there, Sirsy went even deeper into how love works in marriage. Bravely honest about the hardships of living in small quarters without an audience as a buffer during the pandemic, “Seven Seas” brought out charm and laughter all at once about the realities of long-term relationships. She sang about “little volcanos” being small in comparison to their love, which is as “large as the seven seas.” The wisdom of this was so real, so genuine, and recognizably human.
The fun shift to “Hell No,” a new song that has yet to be released, showed Krahmer’s sassy spirit to challenge negative self-talk and push forward to find the good in herself. Incredibly relatable, this song could be a theme song for 2022 for most looking to improve self-care. Audience members nodded along, agreeing that self-talk can be the hardest abuse to overcome. “Hell No” offered some guidance and free cognitive behavioral therapy.
Then, just as quickly, the couple shifted gears once again, bravely covering Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” The vocals are demanding on that piece, and Krahmer owned the song by lending it her own spirit and emotion. She then shifted to fan-favorite “Brave and Kind” as she reminisced about her struggles with cancer.
Her husband, ever the comic relief, also shared his memory about Krahmer learning she had cancer. “That wasn’t even the craziest thing that happened that day…I was kissed…full mouth…by a smoker!” As the crowd laughed, Libutti added, “Yeah, pray for me. Mel had cancer twice, but I was kissed on the mouth by a smoker.”
The audience was delighted by the final song in the set, “Find Somebody to Love,” a Queen cover that demanded Krahmer once again reflect the diversity within her skill set and shift octaves in her vocals like a hot knife slicing through butter. Energized by Sirsy’s performance, the audience demanded an encore. Sirsy obliged with “Waiting for Rain.” The couple admitted they had only played it once before acoustically – in Hawaii, in the rain.
Sirsy is worthy of their legendary status. With powerful vocals and exciting lyrics, the duo is at once charming and intense. Make it a resolution to see them this year, even if you’ve seen them before. Look for them at Putnam Place in February, and even later this summer at NipperFest. This is one resolution worth keeping.