The softly lit room, combined with rich melodic sounds that reverberated from the vintage microphones used to amplify the tinny twangs of yester-year, provided the perfect ambiance, allowing audience members the opportunity to really lose themselves in the moment and disappear into a time left behind by modernity.
“These old songs have melodies that are simply unforgettable,” said Erin McGrane, aka Penny.
Unforgettable – and based on the audiences complete willingness to let go and soak up the “antiquey” dramaturgy – timeless.
Though some audience members were as young as thirteen, and others were well into their golden years, Victor and Penny managed to seamlessly entertain across the generations, opening doors for a revival amongst the young, and reminding others of an American era not so long ago.
The surprisingly bawdy lyrics from the early 1900’s, loosely concealed within the thinly veiled double entendres throughout several of the songs, gave cause to consider the squeaky-clean image that America unsuccessfully attempted to create during the age of Prohibition.
The pair of beguiling storytellers incorporated a bit of new in with the old by performing a delectable assortment of original songs for spectators to sink their hungry teeth into, as well as the familiar favorites. One story in particular shared the adventures of Victor and Penny, wedding singers extraordinaire, as they rode along in cherry-red rickshaws through downtown Chicago serenading the processional on their way to the ceremony.
“We were smiling the whole time singing and playing in the middle of traffic,” McGrane said. “But it was terrifying to be in an open-aired, cherry-red rickshaw, without a seatbelt, singing and playing your instrument with an amp between your feet, in the middle of rush hour traffic.”
With that, Victor and Penny dove into a high-energy instrumental number reminiscent of a truly intense roller coaster ride – one that was fun to be on, but once it was over the rider couldn’t help but feel relief. The playful banter between the two spirited performers frequently brought the room to both laughter and applause.
“My parents used to have an old Victrola,” said Claire Whipple one of the twenty or so audience members who braved the winter snow to see the performance Thursday night. “They had that song Ain’t She Sweet, and his (Jeff Freling, aka Victor) voice sounded kind of like that to me.”
As the evening quickly slipped into night it was impossible not notice the air of fun that filled the room. From the elderly couple dancing in the corner of the crowded record store (unable to stay off their feet and in their seats); to the giggling teenage girl in the front row who couldn’t stop tapping her feet, there was a smile on almost every face in the audience.
The warmth in the room by the end of the night, the amazing musical performance, and the fantastic energy from the audience easily made the blithering cold that was awaiting audience members for the drive home worth the extra precautions necessary to brave the November snow.
Victor and Penny are taking a bit of a hiatus for a while, but say that fans in Cedar City can rest assured they will return in the future despite the dismal weather reception.
“If there is a place where people are hungry and ready for (our music) then we will be happy to play there,” McGrane said.
More information about Victor and Penny is available at www.victorandpenny.com, or on facebook.