Taking part in a Windham Hill-sponsored folk bill at the Whisky on Sunday, local player Milo Binder immortalized "The New Bob Dylan" in a song that was itself a clever pastiche of mid-period Zimmy-isms. This mythic character didn't show up, nor did The New Suzanne Vega, yet each of the six acts provided something substantial or amusing enough.
All six are represented on "Legacy," a 15-song new-folkies' sampler recently issued by Windham Hill Records, which is adding still more vocal efforts to its instrumental mountain o' sales. A national "Legacy" tour is under way, and the crop at the Whisky stop broke down into two distinct categories: (a) the three solidly professional, clear-voiced, acoustic guitar-wielding singer-songwriters, who incidentally have or soon will have contracts with Windham Hill, and (b) the three oddballs.
In the former category were Pierce Pettis, a talented Southerner closest of anyone in the group--in his own gentle way--to "protest singer" status; Cliff Eberhardt, whose strong pop-rock songs in the Tin-Pan-Elton tradition garner him our most-likely-to-be-covered vote; and John Gorka, who quietly belted out some scarily sullen, brooding, anti-romantic balladry, interrupted only by an incongruous ditty about derrieres.
In the eccentrics' club were the Blue Rubies, a female duo with lute and tabla singing wispy renditions of well-chosen Prince, Curtis Mayfield and Clash numbers; ex-Rain Parade member Steven Roback, whose electric guitars provided a texturally interesting break, even as his low-key vocals failed to connect; and Binder, who often seems to be trying too hard when he's opening for rock 'n' roll bands in town, but who came off as less goofy and more genuinely winsome and witty among his acoustic element here. All fine; not a New Rod McKuen in the bunch.