Grif­fin and Plant bring songs old and new to ben­e­fit shows

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Austin American-Statesman - - LIFE & ARTS - Peter Mongillo Mu­sic Source LAN­DIS / FOR AMER­I­CAN STATES­MAN ASH­LEY

In the mid­dle of her solo set Sun­day night at the Con­ti­nen­tal Club, Patty Grif­fin said she was ner­vous. If she hadn’t said it, peo­ple in the club would not have known. Her short set at the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond night of two shows billed as “Patty Grif­fin and Her Driver” was a re­minder that de­spite her high-pro­file part­ner — that would be Robert Plant — she is a force in her own right. In the course of a hand­ful of songs that in­cluded ma­te­rial from her up­com­ing al­bum as well as “No Bad News,” Grif­fin showed her range, turn­ing from melan­choly to up­lift­ing and back again. Robert Plant and Patty Grif­fin per­form a ben­e­fit con­cert Sun­day for Health Al­liance for Austin Mu­si­cians at the Con­ti­nen­tal Club.

The two shows be­gan as one, a ben­e­fit for Austin-based song­writer Michael Fra­casso, who in­jured his hand a few months back in a car ac­ci­dent and couldn’t work. Grif­fin ex­plained that she had called her boyfriend, who im­me­di­ately got on board with the idea and sug­gested a sec­ond show af­ter the first sold out in a few min­utes a few weeks back. They de­cided the sec­ond show would ben­e­fit the Health Al­liance for Austin Mu­si­cians.

Af­ter “No Bad News” the band — bassist Glenn Fuku­naga, drum­mer Donny Wynn, gui­tarist David Pulk­ing­ham and “driver” Plant — joined her for an­other new song, “Ohio,” which, with its slow, hum­ming strum, felt like the sound­track to a sun­set. “This is the last date of our tour,” Plant said, adding that his tour

had been go­ing on for 47 years. “I like this folk stuff.”

Then, it was on to “In The Mood,” the first older song from the Led Zep­pelin front man in a night that would find him per­form­ing sev­eral of his most well-known hits. Plant and Grif­fin sang to­gether, giv­ing the song a warmer, folkier feel, bro­ken only when Plant threw out a big “oh yeah” mid-way. On “Thank You” he clutched the mic with both hands; Grif­fin’s voice again lent a dif­fer­ent dy­namic; Pulk­ing­ham held it down on an elec­tric gui­tar.

Plant said that Grif­fin’s “Cold As It Gets” was one of the first of her songs that caught his at­ten­tion; the ren­di­tion crept darkly as if ac­tu­ally trekking across a frozen land­scape.

Then, quickly, Plant threw a fin­ger in the air, as if remembering some­thing he had been reach­ing for — oh yeah, “What Is and What Should Never Be.” Here, the scales tipped in fa­vor of a de­cid­edly more Zep­pelin-y brand of rock ‘n’ roll, Plant let­ting loose a bit with his sig­na­ture wail and Pulk­ing­ham carv­ing through the song’s iconic gui­tar work with a play­ful and then grind­ing ap­proach.

Plant sang alone on Tim Buck­ley’s “Song of the Siren,” and Grif­fin joined again for “Go­ing To Cal­i­for­nia.” He in­tro­duced the lat­ter with a story about him and Bonzo fly­ing to the U.S., where they “did some things.” He shook his head and stared out across the room; again, the moment felt more rock than roots.

Af­ter the Band of Joy’s “An­gel Dance,” Plant be­gan laugh­ing about Hob­bits and Vik­ings. “I know, I was there with my dou­ble-bladed bat­tle axe,” he said, in­tro­duc­ing “Ram­ble On” (one of a few songs, in­clud­ing “Thank You” and “Song of the Siren,” they didn’t play the first night; Sun­day’s set did not in­clude “Tan­ger­ine,” which the group played Satur­day). The song, which in­spired what was prob­a­bly the big­gest re­sponse of the night from the crowd, fea­tured Grif­fin strum­ming the open­ing gui­tar lines, Plant rolling his eyes and laugh­ing as he sang lines about Tolkien’s Mor­dor and Gol­lum, and a big folk break­down.

“We could do this again some­where else,” Plant of­fered be­fore an en­core of “Black Dog.” Slowed down from the blis­ter­ing blues of the orig­i­nal, it wrapped the night in a cel­e­bra­tory moment, with Grif­fin danc­ing as they de­liv­ered the fi­nal lines.

More fun in 2013. Next year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest will be Nov. 8-10 at Au­di­to­rium Shores, fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers an­nounced last week. In ad­di­tion to three days of mu­sic and com­edy per­for­mances, the fest will once again hold its Fun Fun Fun Nites af­ter­shows.

Mean Eyed Cat un­der new own­er­ship. Mean Eyed Cat owner Chris Marsh has sold the West Fifth Street bar to Matt Luckie, who co-owns the Rat­tle Inn, among other clubs. Marsh made the an­nounce­ment last week on the Mean Eyed Cat’s Face­book page. He said Luckie and part­ners Max Moreland and Jed Thompson will close the bar over the hol­i­days to make “struc­tural and op­er­a­tional ad­di­tions.”

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