Press: Village Voice

Village Voice
Lucinda Black Bear – ‘Capo My Heart’ and Other Bear Songs
Live: Lucinda Black Bear – by Michael D. Ayers

Village Voice
Lucinda Black Bear – ‘Capo My Heart’ and Other Bear Songs
Live: Laura Marling + Lucinda Black Bear at Union Hall – by Michael D. Ayers

Headlining the evening was Lucinda Black Bear, a rock-noir outfit headed by C.Gibbs (a/k/a Christian Gibbs). Gibbs is neither awkward, nor young; in fact, he’s extremely confident in commanding this five piece he’s recently assembled, who’re bolstered by a cello and a violin. Gibbs has been around the game awhile; he flirted with a major label release in 1999, and has subsequently released two records this decade. He’s received accolades over the years from high end places such as the New York Times and NPR, but seemingly has failed to catch on with those most likely be his fans—those who appreciate Okkervil River or Magnolia Electric Company / Songs: Ohia.

Unlike Marling, Lucinda Black Bear sing songs about fighting bears. Well, just one song, really, involves a throwdown: “Fought The Bear” is a large sounding rocker, a full-on assault of Gibbs crowing and crescendo’ing about a quick brush with death, something that fits his band’s morose vibe. He passionately convinces us that this bear fight (with his bare hands) really happened, something that as we get older, we don’t even consider possible. There was a time, decades ago, that fighting bears seemed like a real possibility as did playing professional sports. Another one of the staples in Lucinda Black Bear’s catalog is “Kites,” a slow, twangy ballad that highlights Gibb’s abstract storytelling. It’s not a carefree kite flying song (although flying kites, is in fact, referenced) but instead comes off a bit bitter, a bit jaded, and dejected, as Gibbs describes coming to terms with losing a friend. Gibbs himself puts this into his performances, a downsized version of himself that the jaded and the heartbroken can appreciate—those with imagination, yet who were never rewarded for that quality.

Lucinda Black Bear might be just getting off the ground, and Gibbs has assembled a talented backing band. But his song arrangements (like on the album) would even lend themselves to a larger ensemble, maybe a piano here and there, and a banjo or mandolin would even sound appropriate—but for Union Hall’s tiny stage, a five piece was enough for the moment.