Late last month, the duo A Fine Surprise graced the stage of San Francisco’s own Hotel Utah. It’s always a magical experience when seeing any performer for the first time and both Billy and Louise were no exception. Not to mention, Billy was a very cordial guy as I ran into him at the bar at the show, asking if the band on stage was A Fine Surprise. You read the band story, hear a few tracks and wonder if they can live up to the hype and in this case, their name too. These two veteran performers blew me away with their engrossing stage presence and resonating compositions.
Before I dive in, let’s get a little background for those who are not familiar with the celebrated duo.
Billy Harvey is an accomplished solo artist who has released several well-received albums of his own and has even taken over the producer chair on several music projects.Billy’s musical undertakings have earned him numerous accolades, including a spot on CMJ’s Top 100 Charts with his 2007 release, Bearsick. As a trailblazer of entertainment, Harvey filmed and edited his documentary film, Everywhere Now, which chronicled his 7,000 plus miles tour in a vegetable waste car. His acting skills have also landed him a role on the esteemed movie Taiwan Oyster, which debuted at the SXSW film festival in 2012.
Harvey’s counterpart Louise Goffin brings her own lengthy music resume as the daughter of the legendary songwriters, Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Louise is no rookie to the music industry as she has had numerous solo albums since her twenties. In recent years, she has adopted the role of producer and mentor, even producing King’s 2013 Grammy nominated album, A Holiday Carole.
Goffin’s indubitable musical DNA and experience integrated with the talent and lure of Harvey create an enchanted show of music.
Billy Harvey and Louise Goffin certainly awed and captivated me with their sound and stage presence. Billy Harvey, who has achieved a successful solo career, brings a charm and fascination to the stage with his flirtatious vocals. Harvey’s sweet melodies gracefully bind with Goffin’s numerous instrumentals and vocals. The songs were intimate and the passion behind each song oozed from the duo. A folk/acoustic often has a hard time capturing a room,yet A Fine Surprise had an air of elegance to them that transfixed the audience. The duo not only made you fall in love with their sound, but also their playful banter between the two, made you feel their chemistry as a group.
At the end of the day, I was invited to a show of someone I’ve never heard live before and was pleasantly “surprised” (I now understand the name). The hipster crowd agreed, as the small basement-type venue cheered, expelling sound to the street level. Can’t wait to hear what is in store for this budding group. Hope they are coming back to San Francisco soon! Be sure to keep up with them at www.louisegoffin.com.
An article by Lyndsey .V.