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Story and photos by Tony BonyataHailing from the nation's capital (by way of Lexington, KY) indie singer-songwriter Vandaveer rolled into Evanston last Wednesday evening for a spellbinding, if not all too brief, performance. Vandaveer is actually Mark Charles Heidinger - frontman for the explosive and unfortunately now defunct rock band The Apparitions, and while this may have started out as a solo project when he released his remarkable Grace & Speed album in 2006, he's expanded the outfit on the road and on record with the addition of vocal accompaniment Rose Guerin, a secret weapon of talent if there ever was one.
The two ran through great versions of "However Many Takes It Takes" and the decidedly more poppy "Roman Candle," both from Grace & Speed, and unveiled the dark and lovely numbers "Fistful of Swoon," "Woolgathering," the ale-hoisting "A Mighty Leviathan of Old" and "Resurrection Mary" (a song about Chicago's most renowned ghost), all from their forthcoming sophomore full-length Divide & Conquer on Supply & Demand Records. The duo also delivered an achingly beautiful version of Leonard Cohen's "Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye" which they originally recorded for the digital-only compilation benefit album Before The Goldrush, which features 26 contemporary artists paying homage to classic singer/songwriters like Cohen, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Tim Buckley and others.
Perhaps it's the dark tone of the subject matter of Vandaveer's engaging songs (think Bertolt Brecht, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake on an absinthe bender singing murder ballads through the canals of Amsterdam) that keeps Heidinger from coming off like any other singer/songwriter with a scruffy beard and guitar, but after witnessing their live act it was apparent that there was a true magic in the marriage between his own unique vocal style and Rose's almost otherworldly, angelic harmonies that ranged from French chanteuse to jazz-age nightingale. Rarely have two distinctly different voices sounded so in-step with one another, and it made these songs and their live performance truly sparkle.
For more info on Vandaveer: www.vandaveer.net.
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