Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
One reason you go to a small club like the Childe Harold in preference to a barn like, for example, the Capital Centre is the human dimension of the place. The music is amplified, of course - if pop music were done in a phone booth today, it would be amplified - but there is a sense of proportion; you don't have to deafen the people in the first row to reach the people in the last row.
That advantage was partly nullified during Tuesday night's first show by Tracy Nelson and Diane Davidson; the sound system (particularly in relation to Davidson's voice and particularly when she decided to turn up the volume) kicked off into the kind of distortion that has kept this critic away from rock concerts for the past few years.
Too bad, because when the speakers weren't overloading, the kind of music being made up on the stage was both distinctive (country funk, I guess you'd call it) and expertly produced.
Nelson and Davidson both have rich, well-controlled voices, capable of a variety of styles and effects within their chosen idiom and reminiscent of singers as diverse as Janis Joplin and Mahalia Jackson.
A few small adjustments (maybe simply moving Davidson a few inches back from the microphone) would have made a nearly perfect concert, for those who like this style - and the place was full of them, with a lot more waiting outside for the next show.
The opening act was Johnny Barnett, who sings, as he put it, "real dirty country and western songs" in a voice that is probably too much like johnny Cash's for his own good. He was very funny and sometimes touching and would have been worth coming out for all by himself.