This Little Underground: Kelley McRae at Maxine's


Kelley McRae & Matt Castelein
  • Kelley McRae & Matt Castelein

With its live events, Orlando promoter Modern Music Movement makes perhaps the most consistent noise in quiet music. Besides the regular Acoustic Soundcheck series at the Imperial, MMM does one-off events all around town. But landing an Americana artist of international profile for a special free show at an intimate neighborhood bistro was a nice little coup.

Mississippi-bred Kelley McRae – whose new EP is currently sitting at #8 on the Euro Americana charts, only three spots down from Justin Townes Earle, who’ll soon be playing here (Feb. 17, Dr. Phillips Center) – headlined a bustling Saturday night with guitarist-husband Matt Castelein (Feb. 7, Maxine’s). Despite the busy weekend dinner action, establishment co-owner Kirt Earhart stepped up to deliver a warm, attention-seizing introduction that, in addition to pointing out the various local artists who were in the house that night, presented the featured musicians in a way that set the tone that they were not to be background entertainment. Respect.

Once McRae and Castelein started, it practically transformed this boho Colonialtown eatery into a Nashville music cafe. With covers of artists like Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle peppered among lovely originals, McRae’s well-pitched, educated Americana is neither snoozy folk nor country cheese. It’s got no pose or pretense, just purity between her graceful singing and his beautiful guitar work. Together, they’re the triumph of grace and soul over volume and glitter. And it was a beautiful little engagement.

Kelley McRae & Matt Castelein at Maxine's
  • Kelley McRae & Matt Castelein at Maxine's


This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene. Read the latest column here.

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