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Was it worth schlepping from New Jersey to Manhattan on the night of the city’s tenth-highest rainfall total in record-keeping history, to see these golden-voiced teenaged sisters from Indianapolis trill together? In a word: yes! Walking from the 9th Street PATH station, I had to dodge waves of water splashing from flooded roadside curbs, and wrestle with an uncooperative, wind-whipped beach umbrella. But I survived the rain-battered slog to the cozy confines of Joe’s Pub with a pair of sopping jeans and squishy socks as my only casualties. I soon forgot about my waterlogged clothes once Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz (ages 17 and 19) launched into their songbird-sweet harmonies for the set opener “In the Middle,” the title track from their debut EP The Weight of the Globe. And heavenly highlights from their self-titled debut album – like the spectral “Devil We Know,” the solacing “Paradise,” and the snappy “I’ve Got Freedom” – made the saturated crowd feel as comforted and warm as if we were sipping chamomile in front of a crackling fireplace. (In all, ten of the LP’s twelve songs got airings.) On every number, multi-instrumentalist Shannon Hayden accompanied the siblings’ own light keyboard/acoustic playing with distinctive shading on cello, mandolin, and guitar.
Given that they were playing to a mostly older audience, the youthful duo exhibited some stage shyness one assumes will dissipate with more touring time. Still, their occasional ice-breaking banter was endearing, like when Lily excitedly asked if we’d heard the subway rumbling beneath the venue (we regular Joe’s patrons played along, pretending it was news to us). And Madeleine cleverly turned the tables by thanking us for being “such a quiet audience.” (Perhaps we should’ve formed a mosh pit or engaged in some stage diving, in deference to their punk legend manager, Zero Boys singer Paul Mahern?) Within seconds of their closing cover of Phil Phillips’s 1959 #2 “Sea of Love” (also a 1981 #33 for Del Shannon and a 1985 #3 for Robert Plant’s Honeydrippers), the three personable performers were holding fort at the merch table, eager to meet a quickly-forming line of fans. In retrospect, this night’s downpour was a mere trifle – I’d blissfully brave a blizzard, dust storm, or locusts for another evening of Lily & Madeleine’s luxurious, lilting lullabies.
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