PineCone concluded its 2021 Down Home concert series with a final performance in Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium by Molly Tuttle and Gabe Lee. The series has been one of PineCone’s first forays back into live performances with an in-person audience, but a high-quality livestream option was available as well.

Soft-spoken but with a bold country twang, Nashville native and songwriter Lee opened the concert. Lee’s music is meditative, and his songwriting is direct and sincere, full of details and first-person musings. Many of his songs, such as the track “Imogene,” ponder small-town life and the intersections of time and place. Lee’s most recent album, Honky Tonk Hell, is his second, following 2019’s farmland. “30 Seconds at a Time” is a nostalgic ode to the small things, echoing the wistfulness of some of Lee’s other songs.

Lee is also a pianist – the song “Delilah” became a powerful, bluesy ballad with Lee’s keyboard. The song “Susannah” was an immediate contrast – with seventh chords galore and a voice full of grit, Lee channeled a rock style to emulate the frustration of love. To end his performance, Lee sang a likely unreleased song, but it summed up his musical style well: musically and emotionally arresting, thanks to Lee’s powerful but humble lyrics and his expressive voice.

Songwriter and guitarist Tuttle, also currently based in Nashville, is known for her virtuosic guitar playing and perceptive songwriting. She has produced three albums: 2017’s Rise, When You’re Ready in 2019, and …but i’d rather be with you, a series of covers, in 2020. Tuttle opened her performance with the upbeat song “Friend and a Friend,” from her earliest album. A cover of the Rolling Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow” was next, showcasing Tuttle’s fluid and spinning guitar melodies. While coaxing melodies from her guitar that sounded like multiple instruments, Tuttle alternated between traditional flatpicking and clawhammer guitar techniques. In the early days of Tuttle’s career, she learned to play the banjo with this technique, and then applied the style to the guitar. Today, Tuttle is one of the primary performers known for this style.

Tuttle was joined onstage by friends Megan Jane on drums and Annie Clements on the bass, who also supplemented Tuttle’s voice with some beautiful vocal harmony throughout the concert. “Light Came In (Power Went Out),” Tuttle’s original from When You’re Ready, was an energetically upbeat tune that mirrored the lyrics’ fiery imagery.

Brand new original songs made their appearance as well: “She’ll Change” was a foot-tapping bluegrass romp; in contrast, “Down on Dooley’s Farm” was a more traditional folk-style story, played with humor and grit. Tuttle showed her more sentimental side with passionate but more peaceful songs like “The High Road,” and “Clue,” both original songs from When You’re Ready. In a memorable moment later in the concert, one of Clements’ young guitar students joined the band onstage for a cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.” To close the concert, Tuttle and friends performed a loudly-requested encore with the classic “Carolina in My Mind” and “Olympia, WA,” transforming a punk rock song with an acoustic twist.