Bill Morrissey Brings Soulful Folk to the Temperance House

By Sandi Mayor

A hopeful boy once hummed and strummed along to the music of one of his favorite folk singers. Five years later, Michael Braunfeld, now a 20-year-old literature major at West Chester University, was opening for Bill Morrissey, the same folk musician he admired as a teenager.

The Temperance House in Newtown continued its Friday night concert series this weekend as Michael Braunfeld started the program with "Romeo and Juliet," a song that many artists have performed, including the Indigo Girls. The King of Prussia college student performed "Tonight," and "But I Do," a song he wrote by being inspired by singer/songwriter Sean Culvan. "Annie Dear," an original number with rich, melodious guitar chords, dealt with some problems that could interest college students, such as frequenting bars and pool halls. Braunfeld finished with a somber sing-along original number, "Circles," about love and hate relationships.

The songs about relationships did not end when Boston native Bill Morrissey took center stage. Morrissey's deep and resonant voice coupled with the warm sounds of his acoustical guitar provided the audience with an original mix of folk music not to be forgotten.

Throughout the concert, the musician spoke of odd things he has noticed and thought were worthy of discussion. One question Morrissey had was "What is Newtown like?" He said he heard of the town's drive-by shoutings.

"Morrissey Fell in Love at First Sight," a swingy, happy-go-lucky song, came next in Morrissey's program. Then Morrissey claimed that he dated Patsy Cline in "Letter to Heaven," a song about what the afterlife is like, according to this artist's point of view. Quick up-tempo guitar and vivid facial expressions in "Grizzly Bear" made this song an favorite of the audience. The song included humorous lyrics such as: "She wants me to meet her girlfriends, one named Pookie one named Claire. I just want to take her home and dance the Grizzly Bear."

"Waltz," a song written for his wife in his second marriage, covered the melancholy side of Morrissey. Other audience requests included "Fingers," "Birches," and "C.P. Line," a song about the long stretch of railroad, the Canadian Pacific Line, and what troubles people have along their journey through life.

The Temperance House will feature two different evenings of entertainment on Valentine's Day Weekend. John Gorka with special guest Lucy Kaplansky will perform on Thursday, February 15, at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women will perform on Friday, February 16, at 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Call 860-0474 for ticket information.

Here's what the audience said:

"I have a lot of Bill Morrissey's tapes. I also like his studio work that he does with other musicians. He's soulful and performs original material."
-Jeff Crewe of Ambler.

"I have enjoyed Morrissey for many years. He's a wonderful poet."
-Susan Sayer of Ambler.

"It was a great show. 'Grizzly Bear' was really good."
-Paul Schaeffer of Lawrenceville, N.J.

"Morrissey tells great stories on stage. It was a terrific concert."
-Tom Aulenti of Yardley.

"We really like the concert. We enjoyed 'Birches.' This is the first time we have ever been to the Temperance House. We will be back."
-Herb and Trish Hinkle of Yardley

"Morrissey was wonderful. I just became familiar with his music recently. He has a great rapport with the audience. Braunfeld was a good opening act."
-Rebecca Gardner of Kingston, N.J.