Have you ever had vocals and melodies wash over you like a cleansing Spring rain? It’s what happened to me when I recently saw O Mello Cello Tree perform at The Back Room in Flat Rock. Darby Wilcox (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Sarah C Schaffer (cello, vocals, guitar) have come to define a musical marriage made in melodic heaven with their smoldering elegance and fiercely “mello” lyrics.
Wilcox & Schaffer began playing together in 2005 and sound as if they’ve played together since birth. I haven’t encountered many duos with the lyrical chemistry and smooth poetry that exists when these ladies take the stage. Wilcox has a shockingly powerful bluesy and sultry resonance, but instinctively knows when to step back and allow her jazzy power to be complimentary rather than driving. And Schaffer’s cello haunts me in each song… as if it were the third band member. What was especially surprising for me, was the ladies were joined that night by local songstress, Alexa Woodward. Equally smoky in her vocal style, Woodward and the ladies of OMCT, were able to seamlessly weave their vocals and strings together in such a beautiful melodic ebb and flow of grace and poetry and acoustic emotion. They were an O Mello Cello Trio… and fortunately for us, Wilcox, Schaffer, and Woodward are touring together this summer throughout the Carolinas.
Now, having been lulled into a lurking lullaby trance, it took another listen for me to discover the brilliant, burning, tales that live in each of their original songs. Listening to ‘Reasons Why’ is like a hip, jazzy, magical romp through wildflowers and ‘Untracked Snow’ transported me to some smoky piano bar of the 1950’s. With lyrics like, “hold you to my side until the demons disappear” from ‘The Mountain Song’ and “inside my head, there’s nothing but me” from “Locket,” Wilcox and Schaffer paint gorgeous melodic tapestries of love, devotion, and slow burning humanity.
There is no denying OMCT’s power as songsmiths and performers. OMCT creates music that matters- and Wilcox and Schaffer lend their power of creation to environmental and artistic causes. They often donate time and band resources to advocate for local artists and raise awareness for environmental issues. OMCT is planning to embark upon what they’re describing as a Gulf Coast oil relief tour… and I am very excited to be sitting down in the coming weeks with the ladies to report on the details of this project.
Don’t miss the ladies as they sit down in the WNCW studio for a performance on July 26th and also when they appear in Greenville at Brick Street Cafe on July 29th. OMCT will also be making appearances at The White Mule in Columbia and The Orange Peel in Asheville. Join their mailing list, get tour details, and order music and merchandise at http://www.omellocellotree.com. Also find their fan sites on Facebook, Myspace, and ReverbNation. (Also find music and tour dates from Alexa Woodward at http://www.alexawoodward.com)
Fiercely mello, haunting cello… oh man! You’ve got to check out O Mello Cello Tree.