Second Second Skin
Saturday night Wendell, Melanie and I went to a shop called Pura Vida on Central Avenue to see Deanna Lynn Campbell and Danna Pentes perform together for the first time in about ten years. Initially I thought this was going to be a solo show by Deanna which is exciting enough on its own and then I saw that Danna was going to be performing with her. Quick history (I apologize if I get some facts wrong): Deanna and Danna each spent time in two separate bands that are each now considered if not seminal then influential in Charlotte. Deanna was in the Blind Dates and Danna was in Fetchin' Bones. In the early 90s they teamed up as a duo called Second Skin. Deanna played acoustic and sang lead vocals and Danna played bass, various forms of homemade percussion, backing vocals and kick drum. They then hooked up with guitarist Jay Garrigan and drummer Clay Richardson (who was also in Fetchin' Bones) and recreated Second Skin as a rockin' four piece. Their shows at the Milestone in the early 90s are some of the best live music I have ever witnessed. Like a million other bands, some better and many worse they didn't reach that next level and they eventually disbanded. What made those few shows at the Milestone so special was that you knew that you were seeing something early that had the potential to be big. It was exciting because someday you might be able to sniff and say, "Second Skin? Yeah I saw them at the Milestone in Charlotte, NC in front 100 people back when they were nobody." Who knew that the one band I would actually be able to say that about would be Southern Culture on the Skids?
Before the band broke up they called themselves Violet Strange for a while and you can still purchase their album Stray on CD Baby. Well worth $10.
The venue Pura Vida is a clothing and art store on Central Avenue that I had never been to before. It will be moving to the NoDa area of Charlotte in October. It must be a nice place because Melanie was having a good time exploring the store while the Deanna and Danna were setting up. They played in the back room of the store. There were maybe thirty people there which was fine because this wasn't about attendance, it was about getting on stage and playing.
Those of us in attendance witnessed one of those musical events you hope for when you see a group perform together for the first time in ten years. It was intimate and a little awkward initially but as the hour-long set progressed it was obvious that the connection between the two ladies was still there. The set consisted of mostly older Campbell compositions but did include a few newer songs. They played Deanna's "Black Holes and Quasars" and her beautiful song about the 9/11 terrorist attacks called September Snow worked perfectly as Second Skin songs. "September Snow" is a unique song because, as she described it Saturday night, rather than try to capture the whole event she chose to share her small view of it. It's a view most of us had, through our televisions and that is the song's power.
It's still amazes me anytime I see two or more musicians that gel like Second Skin. I see it whenever Lenny and Michael Federal do an acoustic set together. I see it when the Drive By Truckers hit the middle of their second encore. I saw it in 1998 when Page and Plant played at the Old New Coliseum. I saw it again Saturday when Second Skin lost themselves in their music. That is what is special about them. They lose themselves in their music. They put on a show without showing off.
The video below is the last song of the night, "Walt Whitman," which is on the CD I mentioned above. As you can hear from the response of the crowd they had brought us all in to their personal space and for a little while we were all going for a ride. I'm still not sure if I should know who Phillip is or not.