“And I can’t stay strong forever
But I’m feeling like I can
I just need to understand
Who’s praying for me?
Who’s looking for my soul?
Who’s praying for me
When I’m feeling so alone?
Feeling so alone
It had been a long day — a long, hot day. I was tired — mostly from the heat — but restless and desperate to find something interesting to do. I got off work at five and knew I had a few hours before local jazz-blues-rock-funk group Lambent had an eight-o’clock set at the Madison County Fair. So I headed home, microwaved a slice of leftover pizza, grabbed my camera and a can of corn (to donate instead of paying the $1 admission fee) and headed to the fair.
I had never been to a fair before — not at least that I could remember — and certainly not one like this. The Madison County Fair is like that book Charlotte’s Web — where the farmers win blue ribbons for having really fat pigs — but it was cool (I’m probably naive for not knowing that’s what I was getting myself into, but who cares). Anyplace in East Idaho that provides a platform for local bands like Lambent to share their art, I’ll support.
I pulled up to the fairgrounds at about seven-thirty. Almost immediately, I saw Dani Kirkham Gee (Guitar/Vocals) and Sam Gee (Bass) standing to the side of the stage. The couple were sharing a corn dog, waiting to start loading their gear. They waved me over and complimented me on my Explore Rexburg t-shirt. I love those two so much — they’re just ‘jolly’ and that’s 100% the right word for the energy that surrounds them.
The smell of fair food was intoxicating, so I decided to get a corn dog of my own. B the time I got back, they were loading onto the barn-like stage the fair had provided. It was a small stage, but the viewing area was covered by a circus tent and had pews for people to sit and watch. The performance area was quaint but cool — intimate. the perfect place for Lambent to smack everyone who didn’t know what they were about to witness, in the face with their music.
One of the first performance reviews I ever wrote was actually about Lambent’s first show, so it’s ironic but only makes sense that my first review for this project would be of them as well. Dani Kirkham Gee, Scott Leavitt, Sam Gee and Holly Chaput have each studied music in their own ways. The band bring music stands with them on stage because they actually know how to read the music they’re playing. Two of the members, Dani Kirkham Gee and Scott Leavitt have played music together for the past decade, with only a brief stint apart.
Lambent’s blend of jazz, blues, classic rock and funk is refreshing in a small town like Rexburg. They provide something for everyone, which seems corny to say, but it’s true. Unbelievably talented musicians individually, they become enormously charismatic when they come together as a band on stage. I saw a group of middle school aged girls all sitting, mouths open in awe, while Dani delivered one of the nastiest guitar solos I’m sure they’d ever heard. There were whistles from middle aged cowboys, and cheers from their wives. I seriously doubt anyone was disappointed with the performance and that’s an incredible accomplishment for any group of performing artists (not to mention, Sam Gee might be my new favorite person/bassist to photograph — check out this picture of him below).
Lambent played for about an hour. They delivered mostly covers from rock legends like Bryan Adams and U2 (and a gritty Feel It Still, Portugal. The Man cover), but also tossed in some newly written originals. The lyrics featured above, “And I can’t stay strong forever but I’m feeling like I can, I just need to understand. Who’s praying for me? Who’s looking for my soul? Who’s praying for me when I’m feeling so alone? Feeling so alone. Alone, alone,” were incredibly catchy as they echoed across the fairgrounds, but also resonated somewhere deep — in a place where we all subconsciously feed our insecurities.
I was stunned on several occasions to see the growth that has ensued since that first Lambent performance. This show was far from an end-of-semester jazz recital at the local county fair. Instead, it felt like watching a group of truly seasoned musicians performing together. It was exciting, energetic, eclectic and real.
Hopefully in the near future we’ll get some recorded versions of those contagious Lambent originals to share, but for now your best bet for more is to follow their Facebook page and keep your eyes open for future updates and show announcements.
Review and photos by Jordan Henrie.