Eva Cassidy Live At The Bayou (1986)

This is the story behind the rare video clip of Eva Cassidy singing ‘The Rose’.

David Lourim, a Maryland musician, spent his days in the 1980’s composing and recording music, working professionally with a 24-track recorder on a project he named ‘Method Actor’. He liked to experiment with all kinds of sounds and 24 tracks gave him the chance to enjoy his musical freedom to the full. He played most of the instruments himself, but would sometimes invite friends to join him. Soon enough he looked to Eva Cassidy for inspiration.

David didn’t adapt his music to Eva’s voice because he knew she was able to sing anything. They worked from improvisation: he didn’t write down her parts and she would listen to new fragments, filling them with her vocals any way she liked. It was the perfect way to use Eva’s talents. David gave her all the time she needed and he didn’t criticise her. Eva not only invented the lead parts, but she created harmonies for second, third and sometimes fourth parts on the spot. They took their time, working for several years and crafting something beautiful.

Eva and Method Actor

Eva and Method Actor at the Bayou

David and Eva were delighted with the results and they tried to interest record companies. After they had built up enough material, David started to organise matters in an effort to put themselves on the map. They enlisted several other musicians for their live performances.

In 1986 Method Actor played several times at The Bayou, a live music club in Georgetown which had been a stop-off for artists such as U2 and Bruce Springsteen on their earliest US tours. The owner was impressed by their melodious rock music. The following year he organised a talent show for his fledgling bands and invited big shots from the record industry, including reps from Warner Music. Eva took to the stage dressed in hippie attire, while the rest of the group paraded the typical eighties style.

The Bayou, Washington DC

The Bayou, Washington DC

During the show they became aware of the Warner VIPs in the balcony. Knowing she was being judged, Eva found it hard to sing, and they had some sound problems. Their performance did not have the desired effect. Halfway through the show the executives got up and left for the bar. David and the other musicians were bitterly disappointed but they were surprised to discover that Eva reacted with relief. She was afraid that she would be imprisoned in a musical style that wasn’t entirely her own. She enjoyed playing the music of Method Actor, but she needed more freedom. Fear of commitment would become the leitmotif of Eva’s musical career.

These are images of Eva Cassidy and some semi-permanent members of Method Actor in the dressing room of The Bayou rehearsing ‘The Rose’. MaryBeth Zamer, Ron Kent, Kyle Johnson, Tony Bernui, Bob Feister, Dave Vespoint and Dan Cassidy. .



2 responses to “Eva Cassidy Live At The Bayou (1986)”

  1. Tony Bernui says:

    Eva was definitely super nervous, and wanted us to stand on either side of her up front, which was not possible (nor appropriate.) I wouldn’t say the group was “paralyzed with fear,” but there were some sound problems. It would have been helpful to have played out with a live sound man somewhere else beforehand. Instead this show was our first time playing out, using the house sound team and our great studio sound engineer. I can’t recall whether he attended any of our rehearsals. Live sound is definitely different, and house sound engineers have no knowledge of what to expect. A showcase gives you about very little time to change from one band to the next! She had a section of one song on the record where she harmonized with herself using a 1 second delay echo effect with about a 4 second decay. It was so cool! I remember barely hearing it in the house (as it was not in the monitors) but it sounded cool from where I was. It was a fun night that I wish someone had videoed, because there’s no way to judge how it sounded in the house from the stage.

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