Folk Up

Trained in classical piano, jazz choir and poetry, Amy Obenski steers clear of traditional folk music yet still speaks to the human experience.

Does a substance exist beyond time and space that connects us all? If so, singer-songwriter Amy Obenski has found a way to weave it into her set of down-tempo, ethereal songs, delivering a sound that is haunting, yet lifting.

Often described as having a soul-folk-rock sound, Obenski steers clear of the traditional. With lyrics striving to find the emotions that universally connect us her sound is more akin to that of Ani DiFranco or Norah Jones.

“I sing about the human experience,” Obenski says, avoiding politics.

She showcases this intuitive power in real time via her looper. She records multiple instruments and vocals, building and layering harmonies and rhythms into groovy ballads. “I don’t want it to be repetitive, but it is the nature of loops,” she says of overcoming the rigidity of repeating. Thoughtful arrangements and impeccable execution suggest the looper is at her mercy.

“Other Side of the World” opens her most recent album, An Emptiness to Fill, with a bewitching serenade, highlighting her enchanting vocals and classical piano roots. The single “In Each Other’s Arms” stacks percussion, guitar and piano into an intuitive love song with dynamic ups and drops, utilizing the looper like a conductor of an orchestra.

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Making another appearance at East Village Coffee Lounge, this marks Obenski’s 15th year performing on the Monterey Peninsula. Since making San Francisco home over seven years ago, Obenski has lived a musical lifestyle full-time through performing, teaching and coaching.

This performance is part of a re-imagining phase in her career. “The Industry has changed so much,” Obenski explains. “I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me.”

After a tour-cancelling injury in the summer of 2018, Obenski had time to reflect on the state of the world. “I was doing a lot of lying around and I wanted to do something that didn’t make me feel helpless.” Inspiration struck in the form of a benefit concert that she produced for an organization providing legal support to detained immigrants.

Catch Obenski in all her looping glory, possibly with some last minute special guests. The Bay Area native knows a thing or two about getting an audience engaged and leaving them flooded with feeling.

AMY OBENSKI 6:30pm Friday, Nov. 8. East Village Coffee Lounge, 498 Washington St., Monterey. No cover. 373-5601,

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