The April Meservy Band is sometimes soulful, sometimes blithe, but always passionate
The set included keyboard-heavy covers of Sheryl Crow, Van Morrison and a barely recognizable mellow jazz version of Cake’s “Never There.” It included an effervescent rockin’ oldie; it included a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” that was filled more with lightheartedness than with the dissidence and fervor of the original. It included, too, some soulful, heartfelt tunes penned by the lead singer herself.
That lead singer, April Meservy, seemed game for anything that night at Cantina Los Tres Hombres in Reno, performing covers and her own tunes with equal enthusiasm. Surrounding her was the lively and varied April Meservy Band, or a version thereof: At its core, the band consists of Meservy and guitarist Mark Miller, but various drummers, bassists and keyboardists accompany the two. On this particular night, there was Fernando Flores on bass, Bill Heise on drums and Doug Emerson and Jennie Bangerter on keyboards.
Meservy, who grew up in Reno but attends college at Brigham Young University, comes home every chance she gets to team up with Miller, whom she met two years ago at a Maytan Music guitar jam. The two clearly have a special connection, despite their differences in background; Miller, a psychoanalyst by profession (that’s not psycho analyst, he stresses), has been playing guitar, both on his own and in bands, for “a lot” of years. Meservy, a 21-year-old student, taught herself to play guitar “a few” years ago.
“I really enjoy playing with April because she has a great voice, and she’s an excellent songwriter,” Miller says. “But beyond that, she’s a very special person, and she’s a very spiritual person.”
Meservy is also an undeniably passionate person, someone who is more than eager to talk about her love for music and for life in general.
“Music is one of the big ways to reach your soul, because it’s so universal,” she says.
“I like it when people can connect … when it helps them relax, or it helps them see something in another way, or connect with something, or just makes them happy.”
And indeed, the band has a song for almost every mood.
“We try to do some older songs that people like—just a variety,” Miller says. “[We do] some up-tempo, some jazz, some pop.”
One of their most impressive covers that night at Cantina was Meservy’s slow, tremulous rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” a wonderful vehicle for Meservy’s rich, throaty voice.
Mixed with the covers were original tunes like “Why?”, a song that is infused with both an earnest spirituality and the soulful quality of a country love song. When she croons “I won’t play roulette with my heart/I don’t believe I’ve come this far to turn/and choose the dimmer star/Nothing you could say to me/could bring me closer to my knees/than why?,” Meservy seems to be facing the messiness of religion and human relationships head on, unhesitant to explore the darker side of herself and others.
But with Meservy and Miller, it’s hard to imagine the darkness ever staying around long. Meservy’s infectious enthusiasm and Miller’s laid-back gentleness complement each other splendidly. Their mutual admiration and their common love for meaningful music carry over to their performances. No matter the type of tune, the setting or the band mates, Meservy and Miller light up a stage with their musical passion.