65. Wild Billy’s circus story


I’m sure I’ve left so much out. We did a lot in those five weeks. For instance, I’m fairly certain that I’ve neglected to mention that we did indeed go and see Billy Bauer play again in Bethlehem. You may recall Bauer from my post about the Ice House gig we took the kids to on my second night back.

This time, he and Chris Lorenzetti, the fiddle player from his band, were doing a tiny set at a Bethlehem craft pub Southside 313 and Jersey and I went along for dinner and, of course, to catch the show.

The place itself was congenial enough if just one of a million craft beer pubs that have sprung up around the world over the past few years. The food was good and the beer went down a little too smoothly so that, by the time Bauer and Co. turned up, we were in a very receptive state indeed.


The set was electrified but essentially acoustic and once again I was impressed by Bauer’s formidable skill in both his guitar playing and his singing. He is a performer of no small talent and despite the incessant babble of the bar crowd, his music cut through.

He’s an effortlessly fluid, assured player too, which puts him in an altogether different category to his fiddling bandmate Lorenzetti who plays with sharp, rapid, almost violent sweeps of the bow nevertheless creating atmospheric contributions which perfectly compliment Bauer’s style.

Bauer’s other great talent lies in his songwriting which is highly developed and emotionally charged. The man reminds me of Springsteen in some ways; especially in his ability to tell a good story simply, though, his sound and style are distinctly different.

In his words and melodies, I hear shades of Cat Stevens, The Boss, Nick Drake, even a little Live (the band that is). Jersey said that vocally he is very similar to Dave Mathews, an artist I wasn’t previously familiar with but, upon giving him a listen, I would tend to agree (and in fact, several of the songs Bauer does live are Mathews covers as it turns out).

We stayed for the first set then had to leave to get back home to the kids. Before going we chatted with Billy for a few moments and bought a couple of copies of his CD. He seemed impressed by how far I’d travelled to hear him play and asked me a few questions about Australia. I told him they’d love him down there.

He then mentioned that he was in the midst of somewhat of a comeback after a throat surgery which had left him unable to sing for almost a year. You’d never have guessed this from the performance he’d just given.

At that point Bauer made a sudden departure for his car, saying he’d just had an idea for a song and wanted to get it down before he lost it. We took this as our cue to head off.

The night had been a tonic and had planted a seed in both of our minds regarding Bethlehem and our shared future.

Words and image are my own.



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