Fresh off the start of the inaugural Girls Rock! Des Moines band camp, Wooly’s played host to music this past week featuring the camp organizer Rae Fehring as well as a couple of the camp’s extremely talented volunteers.
Starting off the evening was singer/songwriter Patresa Hartman. I’ve had the good fortune to see Hartman perform live three or four times now, and she gets better and stronger each time out. She brings a litany of strengths to the table, foremost of which is a true gift for songwriting. A competent guitar player blessed with a beautiful, understated voice, Hartman’s lyrics drive right to her listeners’ hearts and play upon experiences and insecurities that we’ve all seen to some degree.
Second up was Fehring’s group, The Honeybees. Fehring is a charismatic, engaging, passionate performer whose songwriting and vocals are more than capable of pulling an audience in. Fehring — joined on stage by guitarist Jennae Kohls — has a way of drawing people in with her storytelling as much as her music. For her part, Kohls’ songwriting lags about a step behind Fehring’s, but the former sets the bar high enough that the latter takes no shame in that. Though they weren’t the headliners for the evening, Rae and The Honeybees were clearly the crowd favorites, and with good reason, as the duo is about as charming as it gets.
Finishing out the evening was Denver-based Coles Whalen. Whalen is a performer whose greatest strength lies in her ability to stay within the lines. Another better-than-average songwriter, Whalen’s been given a good-not-great voice. It is, however, an instrument that she uses to remarkable effect, never over taxing herself, staying within her own limits and delivering a performance that is heartfelt and extremely engaging. CV