Local Musicians Perform at First Flour and Salt Session

Murphy (left) performs from his new album, Familiar Frontier.

Murphy (left) performs from his new album, Familiar Frontier.

Flour and Salt welcomed guitarist J.J. Murphy to debut his album on Thursday, September 22 at 7 p.m. He was joined by two fellow musicians, Jeff Goodkind and Marc Widenhofer, who play the organ and the drums, respectively. This was one of Flour and Salt’s new “Flour and Salt Sessions,” where every month a musician performs in the downtown Hamilton bakery. 

According to Flour and Salt co-owner Brendan O’Connor, Hamilton used to have a strong musical presence that was supported by Saxby’s at The Barge, but after the coffee shop closed, the music scene became less active. O’Connor wants Flour and Salt’s sessions to not only bring music back into the Hamilton community, but also bring Hamilton residents and Colgate students together.

O’Connor has his own history with music, and used to play at The Barge himself. 

“I play the drums and the mandolin, but now I mainly play the espresso machine,” O’Connor said. 

Before they began playing, Murphy, Widenhofer and Goodkind mingled with the growing audience, sharing laughs and “hello’s.” Flour and Salt staff was actively making espresso drinks and iced coffees to go with the freshly baked pastries available. By 7 p.m., everyone was seated and the trio introduced themselves. 

Murphy was asked how he would describe his music style.

“Jazz music based in the vernacular of American roots music,” Murphy said. 

The wide range of style present in his music was evident in Murphy’s easy transition from song to song. 

The trio kicked off the set with a reinvented version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” complete with smooth chords and a strong rhythm. The bond between musicians was evident from the first piece. The first song was followed by a guitar switch and one of Murphy’s original songs, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” from his new album, Familiar Frontier. The smooth organ and slow drum beat in the background perfectly suited the warm, relaxed atmosphere of the bakery. This original was followed by the title track of Murphy’s album. 

People passing Flour and Salt outside peered in the window at the sound of the music, some coming inside, intrigued. The next song was a cover of “How Insensitive” by Brazilian guitarist Antonio Carlos Jobim. The last song of the first set was John Scofield’s “Hottentot.” 

During the intermission, it was revealed that Murphy’s grandfather was in the audience, along with a notable chef from Syracuse, Anthony Donofrio. The audience continued to mingle, and it was easy to see that the diverse group was brought together by a shared love for music. The passion with which the musicians played was evident from the beginning of the concert.

“We play the music that we love,” Widenhofer said. 

The second set kicked off with a song from the album, Dunia Duara. The next song, Billie Holiday’s “There’s No Greater Love,” featured a guest appearance from saxophone player and visiting assistant Professor of Educational Studies Reagan Mitchell. The saxophone added a smooth groove and fit in perfectly with the rest of the musicians’ instruments. The final song was another original, called “Us People.” This slower, rhythmic piece was the perfect way to finish off the concert.

Contact Sasha Balasanov at [email protected].