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all photos: Jeff Martin
all words: Svetlana

It is an ongoing joke in our offices of just how much pride we take in our Black Cat backstage track record. Since BYT started, we have seen everyone from: MGMT to Yeasayer to Fleet Foxes (as an opening band) to Blitzen Trapper to Pains of Being Pure at Heart to God only knows who else, just months, nay weeks before they started selling out venues 5-10 times that size. After stopping by to check out Alex Winston’s tour kick off there this past Saturday, I’m pretty sure we can add her to that list. The list where you say: “Oh well, I saw her back then…”

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But, as always-lets start at the beginning. Typefighter opened. It is wonderful to see how much they’ve improved, tightened up and built upon since I first saw them, while still not losing any of their enthusiasm and sheer love for the music they play. If this show is anything to go by-we should all look forward to the new record which they’ll be releasing later this month.

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Then, a beer later, 7 people took the teeny backstage stage: a drummer, a guitar player, a bass player, 3 back up singers and Alex. And while sharing a stage with 6 others (all of whom are very capable musicians in their own right, it should be noted) may seem like a daunting task to some musicians out there, there was absolutely no mistake here: this show was about Alex, she was in charge, and she was the one you’re here to look at and hear.

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It is important to note that this whole operation has only a handful of songs recorded (all of whom can be found on her “Sister Wife” EP) and have managed to build a fair amount of buzz on the basis of that handful, and that, as we all know, can either truly be a great thing or truly backfire. Thankfully, the backfiring did not happen.

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All my fears about this show were quickly dispelled: that maybe they’d take themselves too seriously, that maybe the energy just wouldn’t be there, that maybe…well, none of that happened. By my estimations Alex Winston is about 5’1″ and weighs probably 100lbs wet, 85% of which is lungs, 10% of which is hair and 5% pure gumption. She is what you’d call “a natural”: someone born to sing and entertain.

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The music, itself, probably comes from making the most of those lungs, resulting in an uproaring and unholy mix of anthemic, quirky pop which has her often compared to both Kate Bush and Florence & The Machine, and while that whole  convenient soundbite description may be getting old by now, it is true, and therefore it will probably stick.

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She is also really quite funny and charming and self-deprecating in a way that only ex-show choir girls can be (in fact, as she ventures into the possible mainstream appreciation having her be Lea Michele’s plucky, long lost older sister on GLEE could be just the ticket to mass adoration for this one) the sort of girl you have a feeling will stick around later, drink some whiskey and be a general good sport. A girls’ girl as much as a guys’ girl. Someone you’d want to be friends with and date too (as we walked out Jeff  did utter the ultimate endorsement words: “I think I’m in love with her”) That just happens to be a star in the making, NBD.

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