The Living Room Sessions at Knuckleheads have become a sanctuary for music fans who like their shows intimate and informal and who want to be surrounded by an audience that is respectful and attentive.
Friday night, more than four dozen fans filled every chair and stool in the room. For 90 minutes, they listened to Carrie Rodriguez and her partner, Luke Jacobs, deliver an array of country, folk and acoustic blues songs, filling the room with a back-porch vibe, a mood heightened when a train rumbled or whistled by.
Rodriguez is a singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas. She plays several stringed instruments — guitar, tenor guitar, mandolin — but is most accomplished on the fiddle, which was her primary instrument throughout her set. Jacobs accompanied her on guitar and lap steel. He also sang a few of his own songs, like “Oh Margherite,” his three-minute take on the opera “Faust,” and “Oh, God,” a song about his parents.
Befitting Valentine’s Day, Rodriguez opened with “I Don’t Mind Waiting,” a love song she co-wrote with Jacobs, and then “Devil in Mind,” a song rooted in gritty blues. Both are from her “Give Me All You Got” album.
She snapped her fingers through “Lake Harriet,” a spry, poppy love song, then changed the mood with “Get Back in Love,” a folk ballad about the need to replenish romance with small acts of kindness and love. She dedicated that one to those couples in the audience who have been together for a long time.
And she showed off her fiddle skills on two instrumentals: “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Greasy Strings.”
Other songs on the set list: “Seven Angels on a Bicycle,” inspired by a childhood friend and adventurous companion who was killed in a bicycle accident on the streets of New York when he was 25; “Brooklyn,” a jaunty tribute to her former home and a song about living in the moment and recovering from the past; “Waterbound,” an old-timey ballad; “Sad Love,” a song about grief she co-wrote with her long-time collaborator Chip Taylor; and “La Puñalada Trapera,” a Mexican ranchera passed down to her by her elders. Her fiddle playing on that song was torrid.
They ended with “Never Gonna Be Your Bride,” a fiddle-guitar romp that didn’t exactly mesh with preceding themes of love and romance. Nonetheless, it brought to a fitting close an evening that was all about intimacy and expressing whatever truths or sentiments inhabit the heart.