by Clint Burgess

Organic vegetables and sumptuous fruits don't often serve as backdrop for live music performances, unless of course you happen to be at Huckleberry's. Saturday night's menu at the hip, health-conscious South Hill market served up a portion of delectable eats along with acoustic music from Sidhe to satisfy the musical palate.

Sidhe (pronounced she) is comprised of husband-and-wife duo Keleren and Michael Millham. Their music could be described as atmospheric acoustic compositions injected with classical flair and brilliantly shimmering vocals. The scene featured shoppers looking for just the right artichoke, PA announcements calling for customer service to the checkouts and the clanging and banging of the deli. Nearly 50 people, running the gamut in age, nibbled on pastas and Caesar salads and sipped fine South American java to the soothing sounds.

I was immediately impressed by Michael Millham's formidable finger-style assault on the strings. The intricate weavings of complex chord shapes and progressions were an impressive display of talent and musical expression. His frequently unorthodox approach was fascinating. It was as intriguing to see what he would do next as it was to listen. Not to be outdone by her other half, Keleren Millham -- with her broad vocal range, dynamic use of employed styles and simply angelic tones -- was equally moving. The duo's cadence was just right for the evening, a perfect blend of upbeat, almost pop-infused classical music, countered with sometimes dissonant instrumentals.

The whole performance had that "hanging in someone's living room watching friends play" feel to it. Highlights included Michael's homage to the late guitar genius Michael Hedges. Doing a piece called "Bensusan," Millham displayed his stunning finger-picking skills and flawless technique. Keeping with the theme, he later performed an equally poignant instrumental of The Beatles' "Yesterday" that I must say, left me a little haunted. Keleren's exhilarating vocal stretches and wistful delivery complemented the music wonderfully. This pair has obviously had extensive musical training. The refreshing part is that they haven't become overly technical: Sidhe strikes the perfect balance between technical proficiency and appealing accessibility.

This particular Huckleberry's show was sponsored by KEWU 89.5, the local jazz station, which puts on and promotes an event at a different venue around town each month. The events offer a great opportunity for EWU's campus station to bolster support for the arts by getting out into the community and promoting local musicians.

Be on the lookout for upcoming Sidhe releases. The Millhams are busy these days working on a release of all-new material as well as a holiday album. They will also be featured on a compilation album to be distributed nationally. Fortunately, they somehow find time to get out there and perform live.

Publication date: 04/10/03

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
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