Judd and Maggie at Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA, Wednesday 5 October 2005
If there is any sibling rivalry between brother-and-sister duo Judd and Maggie, it didn't show Wednesday night at Jammin' Java. The two musicians from Frederick (Maggie on bass, Judd on guitar and keyboard) traded lead vocals and harmonies. Indeed, their strength lay in that balance of complementary sounds: Maggie's angelic warmth offset Judd's overserious tone, and the blend of their voices on "Perfectly" heightened the song's passionate uneasiness.
Although their formula didn't always work (the unremarkable "Sleeper" was a snooze), for the most part those harmonies added a rich texture to their bouncy pop-rock. The bright "A Subject I Am" played calmly like a lullaby despite its upbeat tempo, while "Snow Song" captured the dreaminess of a snowfall. And on a cover of Travis's "Ring Out the Bell," Judd's voice grounded Maggie's resonant soprano, keeping it from floating too high heavenward.
For most of the group's just-over-an-hour show, Judd and Maggie performed with a drummer and a guitarist. But they were equally comfortable alone together: On their final song, the phenomenal "One Year Past 20," Maggie's melancholy vocals were steadied by Judd's delicate keyboard. And although Maggie joked about their partnership ("We have five other siblings, so I have more to choose from if this doesn't work out"), it was clear that breaking up these two won't be necessary.
-- Catherine P. Lewis