Dove Creek Electrifies Barge

The two-person band Dove Creek performed with a special guest at the Barge Canal Coffee Co. to a small but enthusiastic crowd last Saturday, February 9. Reyna Stagnaro on electric mandolin, Putter Cox on acoustic guitar and, for a few songs, guest violinist Ty Adams had even the experienced Barge workers tapping their heels and dancing a little with their quick beats and lilting lyrics.

Opening with “Rock the World,” an original by Stagnaro, the duo of Dove Creek showed off their beautiful harmonizing. Stagnaro’s voice, low and smooth, flowed over lyrics such as “Mama, when she passes, she will fly” in a serious and moving introduction for the members of the audience.

“We call our genre Eclectic Americana,” Stagnaro said of the band’s music, and, appropriately, their set included a few other original country-style songs (Cox’s “Old Friends,” Stagnaro’s “Deeper at the Bottom”), a traditional bluegrass song, a cover of a tribute to Hank Williams, as well as Elvis Presley and Janis Joplin songs (“Alcohol and Pills” by Fred Eaglesmith) and “Texas in 1880,” originally by Foster & Lloyd.

“A good mountain walking song [and] a tribute to our friend Walkin’ Jim who walked 25,000 miles in the wilderness … with his guitar … and dedicated his life to raising awareness on keeping wild places wild,” Stagnaro said of a tune that incorporated yet another aspect of American heritage. The Americana theme then continued with Cox’s bluesy translation of Psalm 13.

“Psalm 13 in English, as if maybe Eric Clapton wrote the music,” he said, and that humor continued in between songs as Stagnaro and Cox tuned their instruments and narrated their friendship.

“Putter calls this my hippie song,” Stagnaro said laughingly before briefly discussing the merits and faults of the lyrics. Luckily, they didn’t take long tuning, as everyone in the audience, from the littlest girl to the older couple behind me, was on the edge of their seats, fingers and feet keeping time with each new song.

Perhaps the climax of the evening was a cover of a song made famous by Emmylou Harris and the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou:” “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby,” a haunting, Depression-era tune. Dove Creek chose to speed up the pace and the audience got involved with hand-clapping and thigh-slapping enthusiasm.

“One of the highlights of last summer was playing [‘Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby’] on the green here. There was a Texas couple that two-stepped in the gazebo to it … they were so good,” Cox said, adding that he associates the song with Hamilton. 

From the emotional to the energetic, Cox’s anchoring guitar and little embellishments, combined with Adams’s alternately sweet and plucky violin, made for fun and easy listening. Cox and Stagnaro, equally talented at melody and harmony, switched between the two with ease while watching Adams bounce his bow off his violin or Stagnaro dance, making it easy to see how happy they were to be there.

Dove Creek has fond memories of Hamilton. Both permanent members of the band knew members of the audience by name and could address some of their particular interests in their music.

“We haven’t played in Hamilton in quite some time, so this is kind of like a homecoming,” Stagnaro said happily, and Cox agreed.

“This is home,” he said.