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Barretto is sincere, despite weaknesses

Georgia Barretto, Rose Wanger Performing Arts Center, Friday.

Brazilian guitarist/composer/singer Georgia Barretto is still "Hangin' On," even after her CD release concert Friday night. (The CD is titled "Hangin' On.")

It can be tough getting started in the music business — getting a regular band, getting a regular groove going. A lot of people hire a "pickup" band — but the secret is to not make it look and sound like a "pickup" band. Unfortunately, this one did — down to the pretty disparate clothing styles, all of which reflected strong, and possibly clashing tastes.

To the band members' credit, they were all decent musicians and played respectably. Saxophone/flutist/percussionist Greg Floor gets a big fat kudo for giving the performance as much energy and vitality as if he was playing at a major festival. That's professional. He did a great job, too. But the drummer looked really bored, and too much of the time, as a group, they sounded like they were only there for the paycheck.

And it didn't help much that keyboardist Steve Lindeman packed up all of his equipment — keyboard, stand, amplification, etc. — and left ... in the middle of the last song! That's not professional. Where was he in such a hurry to get to that he couldn't have stayed two more minutes until everybody finished playing? If he had a schedule conflict, he should have declined to play for Barretto in the first place.

But then, the drummer already had his drumsticks in their case, in hand, and ready to go before Barretto — and the audience — had a chance to acknowledge him during the applause. Of course, the backup vocals sounded more sincere and committed, the only problem is that they often weren't quite with Barretto.

As for Barretto, her best strength is the smooth Brazilian feel and rhythms she gets with her guitar. A lot of what she played were originals — the best of which were clearly those-co-written with Dominic Grant. "Waterfall," for example, was a highlight of the concert. It had good energy (even the band got into this one) and she had her two daughters come up to sing back-up and do a little dancing. It was charming, sweet and a lot of fun. She also demonstrated some nice solo writing on "Voce Partiu."

Barretto was a little weak on her vocals, though. When she had a chart that was higher energy, and especially when it wove in some jazz — such as "Maria Moita" — things moved along nicely. But on the slower charts that relied more heavily on the melodic line than the moving rhythms, it was a bit hard to stay with it.

One thing you can say for Barretto is that her music is very personal and reflects her life, her experiences, her self.

And so, regardless of band, regardless of anything else, there was definitely sincerity and the pleasure of making music that came through for Barretto.