Local-girl-done-good Kristina Train returned to her hometown to a heroine's welcome March 20 at the Savannah Music Festival. With quite a few boisterous supporters in attendance -- some of whom actually sang along with her comparatively little-known lyrics -- the sold-out Morris Center rapidly took on the atmosphere of a house party.
"I grew up between the Cathedral and Pinkie Masters. Usually I turned the wrong way," she said to laughs. "But every Sunday I took a left turn to go ask for forgiveness."
The music world is full of wannabe white blues singers, able mimics who go through the motions, check all the right boxes, and often sell quite a few records in the process. But Kristina Train, despite -- or because of? -- her white Catholic private school roots, is the real thing. The girl's got soul, is what she's got.
SMF Executive Director Rob Gibson introduced Train, who was part of the American Roots and Soul of the South series, as maybe not sounding so much like the South. But with all due respect to Rob, the truth is that Train oozes the South, she's drenched in the South.
Sounding for all the world like a fetching, darker-haired version of a young Bonnie Raitt, Train performed a series of originals from her Blue Note CD Spilt Milk. While her performance was smokey, bluesy, vibrant, and surprisingly mature in terms of dynamics for a performer so young, what impressed me most was the sheer quality of her songs. Both lyrically and musically, she's way ahead of her years as a songwriter, and apparently is only just now hitting her stride.
Before the show I ran into an old buddy of mine who remembered Train as a pre-teen, reluctantly practicing her violin on the porch because her mother made her. (Train pulled out her fiddle on one number at the Morris Center, and still has a pretty good handle on it.)
And now she's an accomplished recording artist on one of America's most respected labels, playing to a sold-out house at the Savannah Music Festival. There's a lesson for ya, kids -- Mama really does know best!