Local singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith kicked off the "Mill City Live" series at the Mill City Museum last night, and if Messersmith's show is any indication, this season of outdoor performances will be a smashing success. The show was sold out, and people crowded around every available table, railing, and pillar to catch a glimpse of Messersmith as he played.
Messersmith performed both of his albums straight through, starting with 2006's The Alcatraz Kid, mixing in a few new unrecorded songs, and ending with last year's critically acclaimed The Silver City. A light sprinkling of rain threatened the performance throughout (the Mill City Museum has an indoor performance space they use as a back-up), but Messersmith and keyboardist/guitarist Andy Thompson persevered and made it all the way through his two-plus hour set without getting washed out, even stopping at one point to sing an impromptu version of "Rain, Rain, Go Away."
The sound was fantastic in the cavernous space of the Ruins Courtyard, a breathtaking outdoor room with jagged limestone walls, exposed beams, and balconies that look down onto the performance area. From further back, it was difficult to hear Messersmith as he spoke between songs, but from closer up everything was crystal clear, and his acoustic guitar and synthesized accompaniments filled every inch of the room.
The "Mill City Live" series will take place over six Thursdays in July and August, and a modest cover charge of $5 also covers admission into the museum itself -- all told, not a bad way to spend the post-work hours of the early evening. Here are the upcoming Mill City performances, all shows start at 6 p.m.
July 16: Gospel Gossip
July 23: Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps
July 30: Charanga Tropical
August 6: First Communion Afterparty
August 13: Butanes