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  The Perfect Cafe 
Artist: Charmer 
Label: Stevenson Productions 
Length: 16 songs 

Listening to the music of the Louisiana acoustic folk group Charmer is not unlike a gentle summer breeze or a call from an old friend 

Formed in the early 1970s, during the heyday of Brit-folk bands like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, Charmer featured vocalists Jan Smith, Dudley-Brian Smith, Bob Smith and Joel Smith. All played various acoustic instruments ranging from guitars and accordion to percussion. 

After breaking up in 1989, Jan and Dudley-Brian formed the Scottish heritage folk group Smithfield Fair while Joel and Bob went on to form Diverse Peoples. 

Now, 31 years after their formation as "the perfect café band," Baton Rouge-based Stevenson Productions has released "The Perfect Café," a sixteen-song CD featuring the best of their Celtic-influenced contemporary folk music. 

And by today's standards, the music here is interesting, thoughtful and, well, charming. 

From 1986 comes "Another Southern Summer," a catchy track featuring beautiful harmonies, subdued acoustic guitar licks and a steady shaker keeping the rhythm. 

"Empire TV" with its urgent vocals and synth drumbeat is a more melancholy song that sounds as fresh and now as it sounded when it was released in 1987. 

"Waiting," from 1985, sounds like something you might here by Crosby, Stills and Nash or America. Gently strummed guitars, nice harmonies, and a nice beat. 

"Flying High," from 1981, is grand in its Poco-ish, California-styled country-pop visions while "You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone" is a bittersweet song featuring Jan Smith on lead vocals. This sounds like something you might have heard by the Pentangle or Fairport Convention. 

"Dreaming of Havana" a track from 1986, features guest guitarist Bryan Mead playing lead on this song penned by Charmer guitarist Joel Smith. 

The optimistic folk-pop of "Time For Living" is reminiscent of some of the mellow Christian music being recorded in the late '70s and early '80s. 

Closing out the album is the simple "Goodbye Old Friend." 

For those of you who missed Charmer during their heyday (they reformed at a gig at PJ's Coffee recently and will perform at the end of this month) be sure and pick up "The Perfect Café." For more information visit www.smithfieldfair.com. 

Andrew West Griffin  08/30/04 


 
 
 
 
 

 

   
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