There is something about a beautifully dainty female singer ripping out chords from a double guitar that holds a special place in my heart. I get the feeling that after she is done slapping some heavy licks from her baritone guitar she would knit me a wool sweater. Anita Robinson could play that dichotomy well, but the wool sweater wouldn’t be for me, instead for her husband and co-captain of the Viva Voce duo, Kevin Robinson.
Viva Voce's performance came as part of the Jamison Irish Whiskey All Access music series at Schubas in Chicago last Saturday. After turning in a promotional wooden token for a free whiskey and coke, I nestled up next to the soundboard and watched as Anita and Kevin set up. I was curious to see how the Robinsons were going to manage their multi-layered sound between just the two of them. It became evident that like a good marriage, each member must take on multiple roles to create “great music” between them. Kevin took on most of the roles, serving as drummer, acoustic guitarist, keyboardist, kazoo phenom, electronic sound looper and vocalist while Anita primarily focused on lead guitar and vocals. I can only imagine how this came about in their Portland, Oregon, home:
“No Honey, you just sing and worry about guitar. I will take on the drums, acoustic guitar, keyboards, taking out the trash, washing the dishes, walking the dog, and when I am not on vocals, I will shove a kazoo in my mouth and hum.”
“Thanks dear. You’re a Dove!”
But Kevin’s musical versatility and Anita’s solid guitar and monotone vocals translate well live. In the short time they were allotted on stage, Viva Voce was able to pump out eight songs, most of which came from their latest album The Heat Will Melt Your Brain. Between the likes of “Alive With Pleasure”, a toe tapping kazoo-laden ditty, and “The Lucky Ones”, Nashville, Tennessee's Viva Vice was able to get the Whiskey-eyed crowd moving.
The wit in some songs such as “Mixtape=Love”, a tribute to all of those Jeff Buckley/The Innocence Mission mix tapes you made for your college sweetheart expressing the words you could have said but didn’t have the time to think of, was lost due to the sometimes overbearing guitar and drums drowning out the soft vocals. But overall, Viva Voce was able to juggle the tasks and deliver their songs with out much compromise to how they are heard on their albums. Here’s to you Mr. And Mrs. Robinson. (Cliché and cough)
Source: Brian Balok