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Zoë Lewis at Chatham First Night ~ 2017 December 31 ~ Orpheum Theater ~ Chatham, MA

... by Joanne Corsano ...

Zoë Lewis
Zoë Lewis
click thumbnail to see a photo gallery
of the concert


Concert Going Partner and I bought our buttons for First Night a few weeks ago, since in some years this popular New Year's Eve festival sells out ahead of time. We did not know when we bought the buttons that the day would be colder than an icycle hanging off the roof of a closed, seasonal Cape Cod ice cream parlor.

We bundled up in ski jackets and scarves and mittens, and made a sensible decision to choose one venue and stay there for the afternoon. No First Night for us this year, this celebration became a First Afternoon, because the performer who was clearly the headliner of the entire festival was fortunately playing two sets at 4 and 5 pm at the Orpheum Theater.

That headliner, of course, is the incomparable Zoë Lewis of Provincetown, originally from England. Sometimes called a "Band in a Body," in the course of her two 45-minute sets Zoë played at least seven instruments: keyboard, harmonica, guitar, ukelele, washboard, bicycle bell, spoons. She also can sound exactly like a trombone while humming. Her singing and songwriting are top notch. Thought provoking, tuneful, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, her repertoire of original material is equalled by no other songwriter who calls Cape Cod home. She's it, folks, the best indie musician/singer/songwriter on our little sandbar. She's funny as heck but can also draw a tear with a poignant story.

At one point she talked about this year's total eclipse of the sun, and inquired if anyone in the audience had seen totality -- and Concert Going Partner and I happily raised our hands. During another song ("Plastic Soup") she recruited two children from the audience to come up on stage and raise up signs saying "NO" when the song asks if we want to eat plastic soup (the song is about how plastic when disposed of gets into the environment, gets into the food web, and gets into the food we eat). Another goofy moment involved Zoë spinning four disks at once on drumsticks (check the photo gallery) while playing a song. Not just a multi-instrumentalist, she's a multi-entertainer. On one song she accompanied herself on the spoons, tapping them against anything that was handy -- her own chest and cheek, the microphone stand, her keyboard, and a couple of times during the song, her derriere (at which time she uttered a playful squeak).

Prior to Zoë Lewis' two sets, the 3:00 performer was Diana Di Gioia and her band Out Late, which I thought should have been renamed "Out Early" for this mid-afternoon gig. She performed a 45 minute set with her band, consisting of a lead guitarist, harmony vocalist, and bass guitarist. Her songs were well constructed and well performed, and her set worked really well as an opener for Zoë, since, like Zoë, Diana has a wide range of songs, some of which are a bit jazzy, some a bit bluesy. We liked her and Concert Going Partner patronized her honor-system merch table (two CDs for $20 -- how can you beat it?).

At 6:00 we departed the Orpheum and got caught up for a few minutes in First Night's "Noise Parade" on the way back to the car and an early return to our home at the other end of Cape Cod.


Eyelashes (Zoë Lewis)

Breakfast in Bangkok (Zoë Lewis)

Long Day (Diana Di Gioia)

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