Shoestring Review: Singer Kirsten Opstad Conquers Club Passim...Next Stop, the World

I recently ventured to Cambridge, MA to attend the release show of Kirsten Opstad's CD Fear of Swimming at the legendary Club Passim, and it was a performance that kept this usually shy and retiring author swaying, stomping and bopping in her seat. It wasn't on my agenda to write a review of this show but I love to write about the things I love --and I am besotted by Opstad's energetic, original and just straight up damn good music.

Kirsten Opstad wielding her weapon of choice.
Photo credit: Rebecca Opstad

Kirsten Opstad's a singer-songwriter with attitude. Disarmingly adorable with wide baby blues, a girlish speaking voice and bouncy blonde curls to round out the picture, Opstad is nevertheless no Pollyanna. Put a guitar in her hand and she's the musical equivalent of Huck Finn with a slingshot: a wild child whose words smack you right between the eyes. Her lyrics aren't exactly your typical take on life, love and the whole damn thing: unexpected turns of phrase, deliciously discordant flourishes and a razor's edge wit make for a rich listening experience. Indeed, she's one of the most nimble wordsmiths this music-lover has ever heard and a breath of irreverent fresh air in a musical climate wherein "put a ring on it" is considered on par with Oscar Wilde. Also, many of her songs are hysterically funny --not too surprising as Opstad is also an accomplished improv comic who regularly performs at Boston's famed Improv Asylum. But while her tunes frequently elicit laughs, they never devolve into hack or novelty songs:  her words are too smart, the emotions too honest. In short, with rollicking melodies and en pointe observations, Opstad is one to watch...and to listen to, again and again.

Oh! Which brings me back to her new CD Fear of Swimming! In true shoestring fashion, Opstad secured funding to produce this CD via clever use of the donation site Kickstarter, a great way for creative professionals to get a financial leg-up from supportive fans. But a word of caution to all potential kickstarters out there, this isn't your run-of-the-mill begging site. You have to have talent and a project worth supporting!

And so when friends and fans alike gathered at Club Passim on Saturday, January 14th to celebrate Fear of Swimming's release, it was really quite magical, and I say that as a cynical person who is not one to use such adjectives loosely. There was a collective feeling of pride in the air, pride in an artist making her own way, her own breaks. And Opstad was not above sharing the day with a wonderful crew of musicians that she obviously appreciates and admires. Opening for her and providing musical back up was the phenomenal Kristen Ford Band, a group of musicians that I do believe merit their own stay tuned. Another treat to be savored was Michael Descoteaux's freneticjazzyfabulous turn on keyboard, and while this is probably TMI, the colorful Descoteaux strongly calls to mind a young Gene Wilder which, strange chickie that I am, I find rather sexy. But perhaps one of the best moments of the show was when Steve Subrizi --Opstad's bandmate, together they form the outrageously wonderful "folk-punk sensation" The Crazy Exes from Hell-- took the stage for a number with Opstad and the two delighted as only crazy exes can. BTW, Subrizi recently penned his own great review of his friend and bandmate's work --so check it out here.
The Crazy Exes from Hell: Subrizi & Opstad.
Photo credit: Um...Random Photo Booth?
Now after all this hullabaloo, it is only fitting that I give you the link to Kirsten Opstad's website, where you can read all about her and her work, buy her amazing CD Fear of Swimming and get all the skinny on upcoming tour dates:


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