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The Cactus Blossoms move beyond Everlys

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., April 22, 2018

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

The Cactus Blossoms most obvious comparison is the Everly Brothers. Yes, Page Burkum and Jack Torrey are brothers, and they sure sounded like it. But only playing the Everlys card in describing The Cactus Blossoms would have sold them short.

While the harmonies played a large role throughout, Torrey enjoyed a number of songs where he was the lead vocalist, showing he did not necessarily need his brother to make worthy music. They also delved into a variety of styles on several new songs played, that tended to be a bit harder edged.

And covers also can tell the listener something about a band and its influences. In the case of The Cactus Blossoms, that ran from The Kinks ("Who'll Be the Next in Line") to Waylon Jennings ("Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line") to a great take on Charlie Rich's "Life's Little Ups and Downs." They encored with The Beatles' "This Boy," apparently giving into badgering from one fan, who got his way. It helped that the Blossoms knew their way around the song as well.

The biggest hand perhaps was for "You're Dreaming," which was in a "Twin Peaks" show.

While Burkum and Torrey are front and center, a third brother, Tyler, was superb on electric guitar, with steel and twangy elements throughout the 75-minute set. He put a lot of bite into the songs.

But, ultimately, the beauty of The Cactus Blossoms are those harmonies. It seems to be a part of musical culture to point to siblings having a certain style that other acts can't match.

Hey, there have been worse things to be tagged with. In the case of The Cactus Blossoms, the Everlys are not an anchor, but inform who they are. And the Blossoms are pretty darn good at what they what they do.

A low key Frankie Lee opened the show with a pleasing set that seemed to owe a large debut to Bob Dylan. Lee, playing solo acoustic with a dose of harp, did not veer too far musically, but his folk-oriented set worked.