I saw Liz Janes with Create(!) and Half-Handed Cloud last Saturday night at the Halfway Inn in Ann Arbor, and it was an excellent show. After locals The Actual Birds finished their set, Liz Janes took the stage, with the improv group Create(!) as her backing band.

Their set was intense, hushed, breathtaking, and joyous, in turns. My personal favorite moment was a very pregnant Liz moving in front of the stage by herself and playing an acoustic version of “poison and snakes”, accompanied only by her own ukelele. Gave me shivers.

Half-Handed Cloud was also great fun, in a different way. If you’ve ever heard any of the HHC records, you know how quickly his short songs twist and turn, and how much different instrumentation there is. HHC’s John Ringhofer was joined by a friend of his, and between the two of them, they banged out loose, “is it going to fall apart?” versions of a bunch of his songs. John Ringhofer played acoustic guitar, trombone, Omnichord, and maybe a few other instruments. His friend handled bass guitar, orchestra bells, melodica, drums, and probably something else I’ve forgotten. Fun stuff!

In celebration of that show, here are my top 8 songs of the moment from the Asthmatic Kitty catalog, most of which are either by Liz Janes or Half-Handed Cloud:

liz janes, “poison and snakes” (Poison and Snakes)
liz janes and create (!), “lonesome valley” (Liz Janes and Create (!))
half-handed cloud, “tongues that possess the earth instead” (Halos and Lassos)
half-handed cloud, “a suit of clouds to ride the skies” (Halos and Lassos)
half-handed cloud, “a picnic few want to attend” (Halos and Lassos)
half-handed cloud, “in you now, but still below” (Halos and Lassos)
half-handed cloud, “skip the rope” (Halos and Lassos)
sufjan stevens, “vito’s ordination song” (Greetings from Michigan)