The Vampire Lounge is a red-hued wine bar hidden on Little Santa Monica blvd in Beverly Hills, and not the first place you would expect to find live music. The bottom floor contains a bar and a handful of stools, and just enough room off to the left of the door for a musician or two to perform. Upstairs is a cozy area with couches and tables that also gives a view of the downstairs performances.
First opener Ericka Sanse had a pretty voice and admirable skill on both the guitar and banjo, but her songs tended to meander into a fuzzy haze, and relied to often on discordant melodies for my taste. Next act Tar & Flowers was a welcome surprise. Dressed like golden era Neil Young, but channeling a young Bob Dylan in his voice and lyrics, the singer played a number of memorable originals that will be released on a new record next year, and closed with a cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers‘ “Sin City”.
Headliner Holy Oak started his set with the first track from his new album (Second Son), “Basilisk”, a showcase for his hauntingly beautiful voice and delicate guitar playing. Holy Oak‘s soft-spoken, deep singing is reminiscent of Nick Drake, and he carried it well through a few more original songs (including “Only Him or Me” from his first album under his name Neil Holyoak), as well as covers of the Carter Family, and closer Neil Young‘s “Powderfinger” that did fine justice to the original.