If patience is a virtue, then Ryan Fitzsimmons had every right to throw a raucous jam Saturday night—celebrating the release of his new album “Cold Sky.” The Colossal CD Release Show at the Lizard Lounge feted the 7 year project with a host of friends, all whom helped work on the album. Dietrich Strause opened the night, and when Ryan took the stage he was joined by Jim Larkin, Fez Aswat, Danielle Miraglia, Tom Bianchi, Laurence Scudder and more for a night of fresh music and a damn good time.
Dietrich Strause’s opening set got the room’s blood flowing with 9 songs. His selections from Laborsongs & Barkingdogs, plus a cover of Dylan’s Buckets of Rain pleased the crowd, and showcased Dietrich’s rich songwriting and masterful skill.
Ryan stepped up to the mic at twenty of 11, declaring that he hoped to induce his bassist’s wife’s labor. To kick things off, Ryan was joined by Laurence Scudder on the viola for a remarkable cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Breaking from the lot of dreary done-to-death covers, this soulful rendition opened the floodgates for the show’s first half of gossamer folk and rock.
The band was used to full effect. A clear example of the collaborative effort of all these musicians, they truly showed how harmonious and fluid the recording process was (“Cold Sky” was recorded in live takes). From the easy-going “Your State of Mind” to “Diamond Ring,” Ryan just rolled on through song after song with a slew of support: Danielle Miraglia on vocals, Fez Aswat on bass, Jim Larkin on the drums, Strause returning on trumpet, Tim Lewandowski with the trombone, and Tom Bianchi with the upright bass “of doom”.
If the first set was the cocktail hour, then the second was the fusion dinner of country/rock/folk with sides of psychadelia and Zydeco. Sonic reminders of The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, The Old 97’s, The Charlie Daniels Band and more filled the room with thumping beats. Some songs, like “Guardian,” drew from Ryan’s personal life, touching on abstractions of his marriage, a mugging, and the loss of his dog. Fitzsimmons and company kept things rumbling with solos from Danielle, Laurence and Tom, bringing the party full circle.
Ryan’s show made a smooth transition from low key ethereal tracks to a harder rock sound that did “Cold Sky” serious justice. Two distinct halves of the album still worked as a whole, bringing the live sound to a higher level of effervescent energy.
Bravo, Mr. Fitzsimmons!