Garden lights are drifting on a pale dream of the evening, their orbs crossing in lines to glow like mountain honey against a shaggy wall of fir and alder trees: A crowd waits at picnic tables under their luminous reach. For a moment there’s silence. Stepping by Victorian-era lamps that gleam below the curtain of long vines, singer Cassidy Joy lifts a blond acoustic guitar and gradually brings it over her shoulder.
Before her fingers get to its strings, she notices shades of twilight radiating across all these music-lovers with their eyes fixed on her. For a girl who grew up playing barefoot in the Sierra forests, and imagining the far-off Highlands of those Celtic healers she descends from, this rustic venue at sunset — with its outer-worldly loom — couldn’t be more suited to her creative instincts.
Everyone at Grass Valley’s Women Making Music Singer-songwriter Showcase listens for her first notes.
Joy’s right hand starts a little dance of strumming, slowly bringing silver chords into the air — a gentle, drawn-out ring that melts into the sun’s last rays bending through pine branches. Her voice — which is strong and soft at once — intones the words, “Pretty lady in the picture frame, silk white dress, wreath of baby’s breath.”
After years of playing in bands, this song “Picture Frame” is one of the few original compositions that Joy has put out as a solo artist. Up to this point, the 35-year-old has been known from Nevada City to Pleasanton as a vocalist who can throw an eye-opening amount of soul into the hits of Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt. But with the debut of “Picture Frame,” audiences are seeing another side of Joy, one which she’s mainly kept hidden.
That all changes tonight.