There's a famous anecdote about the three-note guitar riff to "Satisfaction" coming to Keith Richards in the middle of the night, but what about whole songs? What about a whole album? The Nocturne Diaries, the latest record from Texas folk singer Eliza Gilkyson, is exactly that—a collection of songs manifesting themselves in the darkest hours of the day. Live as on record, Gilkyson is a master storyteller, her natural ease with an audience honed by a steady touring schedule; she returns to the erstwhile Freight & Salvage in Berkeley this week.
But the secret weapon here is Nina Gerber, who accompanies Gilkyson at the Freight. Gerber has long had an innate ability to get inside a song and spool out beautiful notes, and watching her play is like experiencing great jazz, full of improvisation and surprise. You could spend the entire day at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and never hear a solo matching Gerber's consummate taste and invention; surely this is rooted in her years spent alongside Northern California folk icon Kate Wolf, but her skill and acumen have only grown. It's no surprise she's so in-demand.
With Gilkyson's songs and Gerber's dressing, prepare for an evening of smart, affecting music.