Rachel Rufrano and Rainman

Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014

“Complex Savior”

It’s been a long month since I last posted. My 92 year old mother in San Diego has been either in the hospital or a rehab clinic most of the time. Of my five brothers and sisters, only one is available in San Diego to help my mother through her recovery. Two are out of state, and another one is incommunicado. She is back in her home now, but only after I spent all day Friday either on my cell phone or tapping away on the keyboard.

Tonight I took a brief break from dealing with my mother’s latest crisis to attend a brief performance by Rachel Rufrano, a young poet and songwriter who performs with a band named Rainman, at a wine bar about five blocks from where we live in Long Beach. Rufrano and her three fellow musicians played a short set of seven or eight songs. If the rule is to leave the audience wanting more, she perhaps adhered to it a little too literally. The first two songs felt as if the band hadn’t yet warmed up for the night, but by the third song, the rhythms of her lyrics found its vocal footing with the drum kit and the bass guitar and before too long her rhythm guitar was interweaving itself in a thoughtful way with the lead guitar. The sound system was far from what the band needs to be appreciated, but Rachel Rufrano is hardly the first aspiring songwriter to have to overcome the lack of a sound mixer. Her ability to sing and play at the guitar at the same time (a skill that is not fully appreciated by non-musicians) has matured to the point where she more than overcome that disadvantage. It was a pleasure to see this young artist at the start of her career.

Back in March, Rachel sent me a link to her first album, which I responded to with a quick note. I had hoped to expand it into a blog entry, but since that’s not likely to happen soon, I thought I would end this post by quoting past of my letter to her:

“Thank you so much for sending your album, which I just listened to all the way through, and enjoyed very much. The textures of the melodies and the intricate lyrics make your debut an exceptionally fine accomplishment. ….

“The album built in artistic intensity all the way through. It had an organic logic that kept me in completely sympathetic alignment with its oscillations. Usually, albums will trail off by the three-quarters point. Instead, your sequence of songs only cantilevered over yet greater depths of resonant insight. I especially loved the musical ending of “The Lesson” and how the long song (“Complex Savior”) seemed to spring out of all the previous songs like some profoundly compressed coil of epiphany. The rhythmic shift in the second half of “Complex Savior” was absolutely inspired (and inspiring). I found myself tapping out a beat in accompaniment to its iridescent syncopation.”