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'Mixing it up,' Arndts, natives of Fort Plain, perform sold-out show at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs

'Mixing it up,' Arndts, natives of Fort Plain, perform sold-out show at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs

A number of local musicians join in as special guests
'Mixing it up,' Arndts, natives of Fort Plain, perform sold-out show at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs
Jocelyn and Chris Arndt
Photographer: photo provided

“We’re siblings, if you haven’t figured that out already,” Jocelyn Arndt joked at the start of a Leap Day performance at Caffè Lena on Saturday night with her younger brother, Chris. 

The musical pair from Fort Plain share a strong physical resemblance: long, glossy brown hair, piercing eyes, and bright smiles.

They also share an affinity for blues-rock, a Harvard education, and the intuitive, easy interaction of siblings who have made music together since elementary school. 

Now approaching their mid-20s, the duo (plus bandmates and special musical guests) returned to the Saratoga Springs folk venue — where they first played in high school — to debut new material from an in-progress studio album in front of a sold-out crowd filled with friends and family, including their parents (who they joked were inexplicably seated at opposite sides of the room). 

Like their last performance at the venue in 2019, the pair played mostly acoustic, with Jocelyn focusing on her fiery vocals (rather than the keyboards she sometimes plays) and the bearded Chris seated on a stool strumming an acoustic guitar. For the first few songs — including the intense “Kill in the Cure” from the pair’s most recent album, “The Fun in the Fight” — the siblings were alone onstage.

“Tonight’s all about mixing it up,” Jocelyn said before bringing out David Bourgeois — the band’s manager, producer, and percussionist — and bassist Dan Zavadil for “Outta My Head,” a spirited blues rocker that the Arndts played last year on NBC’s “Today Show.”

Both Arndts exude self-confidence onstage, and Jocelyn is a dynamic front woman, with animated hand gestures and a commanding voice that she knows how to wield well, whether veering from a dramatic whisper to an emphatic roar.

After “Footprints on the Moon,” a song about dreaming big that Jocelyn wrote the words for not long after high school graduation, the band rocked out on the catchy “Be That as It May” before playing the dark ballad “Bad Business,” with Chris adding backup vocals for the first time.  

Troy singer-songwriter Olivia Quillio joined the band for two songs: the gospel-tinged love song “Mercy Me,” from the Arndts’ recently released, live acoustic album, “One Night in November,” and the rarely played “Things I’ll Never Know.”  

“It’s about to get crazy,” Jocelyn then said, introducing to the stage keyboardist Beau Sasser from the electro-fusion jam band Kung Fu, which happened to be playing down the street later in the night at Putnam Place (Sasser also plays frequently with the Arndts). 

Local jazz talent Jeff Nania also joined in on saxophone for the run through “Jagged.” Sasser then split to go soundcheck, and the Arndts got “smooth” on a deep cut off their last album, a breezy yacht-rock-like number, “The Weatherman,” which Nania accompanied on flute.

The pair’s 90-minute set wrapped up with “The Western,” a rousing singalong with a dark, low undertone that sounds like a “Gunsmoke” or spaghetti Western theme, and new song “Skeleton Key,” an uptempo blues burner that drew hearty cheers from the crowd.

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