by Melanie Wong
Photo credit: Ryan Jensen
SubCulture hosted their first annual Holiday Concert Series this past week, in which a sextet of emerging New York–based musicians—collectively known as SubCulture's "Holiday House Band"—joined forces to present a set of unique arrangements of popular holiday tunes. The band included Laila Biali and Jo Lawry (vocals), Steve Elliott (guitar), Alan Hampton (bass), Ben Wittman (piano), and Gregg Kallor (piano). Each night of the series highlighted a special guest star, and Tuesday night's audience had the privilege of hearing renowned singer/composer Peter Eldridge.
For a group assembled especially for this event, the blend and energy of the night was really something special. Although each musician possesses enormous talent, the singers stood out most prominently. In particular, Jo Lawry's effortlessly sweet soprano rang over top of a sultry "Sleigh Ride" before the band merged into a jazzy "Jingle Bells." Between her vocal tone, Meg Ryan cuteness, and Australian accent, Lawry is blessed with the ability to leave everyone in the room smiling.
Laila Biali, on the other hand, best demonstrated her powerful, yet breathy, soul-pop style in a cover of the Ingrid Michaelson/Sara Bareilles hit, "Winter Song." And, of course, Peter Eldridge's lounge-style singing and jazzy-pop piano filled the room with cheer and stole the show. In addition to performing some of his own songs with the band, he led an inspired performance of "Winter Wonderland."
SubCulture fabulously created a fun atmosphere and formed a kick-ass band that made for a perfect pre-holiday night out. Really, the only thing more I could have hoped for was some hot chocolate and candy canes to go along with it.