San Francisco Bay Blues (Live At Pearl’s), 25 years ago

In 1994 Eva Cassidy moved to Annapolis, a beautiful town along the Chesapeake Bay. Her new residence was the perfect place for small or solo gigs. The old town had plenty of bars and restaurants interested in low profile and acoustic live music. Eva would have liked to sing and play in Europe like her brother Dan, but Annapolis proved to be a reasonable substitute. The atmosphere in the bars and restaurants had a certain Englishness and people liked to listen to well-played songs. Eva’s guitar playing had much improved and it combined perfectly with her voice. For a small audience, watching an Eva Cassidy performance could be a meaningful musical event, not just someone with a guitar singing in the background.

Eva Cassidy at Pearl's

Eva Cassidy Live At Pearl’s

Eva’s shyness remained a problem, especially for those who didn’t know her well. She lost herself completely in her singing, her voice alone transporting the listeners – she would look at the ground constantly, very rarely making eye contact with her audience. For this reason, Eva liked to play in dark and somewhat dingy bars and restaurants.Pearl’s was a small dark restaurant in a strip mall across the street from a cemetery. Punters ate in total silence when Eva performed and she felt safe because she wasn’t hindered by spotlights. Several live recordings were made at Pearl’s and appeared initially on the 1994 bootleg album Live At Pearl’s.

Bootleg

Bootleg

In 1994 Bryan McCulley, (the Blues Alley cameraman), had attempted to record footage of Eva’s intimate performances at Pearl’s in Annapolis. Eva sang as if she was performing to a small group of friends. Bryan plugged directly into the mixing console and he managed to produce a reasonable audio recording. One of the best songs that night was ‘American Tune’. Eva listened to the tape as she worked on her murals in the school canteens and it was duplicated and circulated among her friends after her death. The video recording was less successful: it had failed on the first night, but the second night had seen the capture of some great material. Eva never saw Bryan’s videotapes, since she didn’t like to look at herself.

San Francisco Bay Blues Live At Pearl’s (24 September, 1994)

Blix Street pulled together the best parts of the Pearl’s concerts, polishing them up for commercial release. They paid Bryan McCulley for the rights, but when they listened to the tapes they discovered that a clarinet had spoiled many of the songs – it would be practically impossible to remove the part, rendering them useless. The best clarinet-free songs ended up on Eva’s later albums American Tune (2003), Somewhere (2008) and Simply Eva (2011).

2 responses to “San Francisco Bay Blues (Live At Pearl’s), 25 years ago”

  1. Kelli says:

    I first discovered Eva in 2005 and was immediately in love with her voice. Upon doing a little research, I was heartbroken to learn she had already passed away. Such a beautiful soul, such a mighty voice inside that beautiful girl. I will always love you, Eva!

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