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Looking at the diversity of the two projects that AA Bondy has been a part of, his talent and multifaceted musicianship is clear. The Alabama-based band Verbena, for which Bondy (then known as Scott Bondy) provided lead vocals in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, was loose and grungy, and has drawn frequent comparisons to Nirvana. Their first album, Souls for Sale, was released in 1997 and earned the attention of Dave Grohl, who went on to produce their sophomore record, Into the Pink, two years later. The harsh grittiness of Verbena’s guitar work, along with Bondy’s strained yell-moaning, is in complete opposition with his later solo efforts. After the dissolution of Verbena in 2003, Bondy returned to his hometown of Palenville in upstate New York to pursue solo work. Under the title AA Bondy, he released American Hearts in 2007, which offered folky, romantic storytelling through dreamy, finger-picked melodies. There is still a roughness to Bondy’s work, but it is slowed down and polished with more deliberate instrumentation.
This short set from Slim’s in San Francisco, recorded on Feb. 26, 2009, is dominated by songs from American Hearts but also includes some songs from his second album, When the Devil’s Loose, which would be released in September of that year. Bondy opens the set with the vigorous, guitar-heavy “John the Revelator” and “Rapture (Sweet Rapture)” before playing the sweet, near six-minute ballad “There’s a Reason” led by an impassioned harmonica. Later in the set, he performs the title track from his sophomore release, “When the Devil’s Loose.” Watch Bondy perform this song from this day in February 2009: