Traveling from their hometown of New York and currently on a short tour, the sister and brother act of Jocelyn and Chris Arndt delivered an unforgettable performance at Hotel Cafe’s Second Stage. The Arndts are being touted as “creating a new generation of authentic album rock.” Adding blues to that sonic mix gives their blistering sound a searing potency and emotionally-charged edge. Though, Jocelyn and Chris aren’t reinventing the wheel, so to speak. Nor was the original (generic) set of material going to make music listeners forget the blues and rock purveyors of the both genres that came before them. But it was a solid and credible set of music.
What is notable is how earnest and sincere their delivery of the music was itself, as well as the stellar musicianship that anchored the material, often even elevating it. With Chris on lead guitar, Kate Sgroi on bass, Tyrone Hartzog on keyboards, and the duo’s manager, producer and manager, David Burgeois, on drums, the arrangements were fiery, muscular and taut performed live. There was a lot of frenetic, sweat-soaked energy emitted from the stage. This was not a listless or static performance. That was the highlight of the show.
Fronting the band was the petite firecracker, Jocelyn. She has a powerful voice that has drawn comparisons to such legendary artists as Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and Fiona Apple — very high praise. Was Jocelyn worthy of it? Yes and no. There is no doubt she has an expressive range that could possibly tap in a variety of emotional hues and colors that could take the music to some interesting places; but, she didn’t. Jocelyn does seem to be moved by the spirit of the blues and rock in her heart and soul just watching her perform. Yet, Jocelyn instead seemed to go for the jugular most of the time, and it was a full-tilt affair fairly non-stop. Singing too close to the mic was also a hindrance as the song lyrics were at times muddled. Tackling two covers — Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet” and Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason”– were a chance to try something different and really make them her own, but they were oversung and the vocal interpretation felt overwrought.
Jocelyn and Chris Arndt are a great live act and the musicianship is top draw. At Hotel Cafe’s Second Stage, they gave the performance their all to a receptive and appreciative audience. Jocelyn and Chris Arndt have released two-full length albums, “Edges” and “Go,” and one live album, “30,000 Miles.” A number of well-known musicians have been special guests on their albums and they played various festivals. Jocelyn and Chris have opened for many prominent bands and artists.