I’m listening to Damien Jurado’s new album as I write. I’ve been listening to it a lot. It’s fanatastic and you should buy it. You should also buy a time machine and go back to last Friday and go see Damien with me at the Turf Club. Then on Sunday you could come to church with me and listen to Matt Arthur and Don Bratlander sing their songs and old gospel hymns. And then you could head over to Shamrock’s on Monday night and listen to amazing stories interspersed with songs by Communist Daughter. That’s what you could do if you bought a time machine.  (That and zing people with all those witty comebacks you thought of hours after the fact.)

All three of these artists/bands are terrific in their own way. They’re three of my current favorites and that I got to see them all over the course of four days is pretty flippin’ amazing.

I love live music. I love live albums. I love the risk involved in turning off the digital fixery and laying it all on the line.

I can pinpoint in each of these three performances where the artist broke through to the audience, and each break through occurred when the artist was most vulnerable/obviously human.

Damien Jurado – His connection was about 2/3rds of the way through when he opened himself up to the questions and answers. You could ask him anything. And he might answer it. Or he might shrug. Or he might make fun of you.

Matt Arthur – Matt is blind. He stops and sways when he swings and at one point had rotated till his body was facing away from the people. His sideman, Don, reached over between songs and rotated him around to face the group once again. “We have to do that a couple times during each show.”

Communist Daughter – This was a storytelling event held every few months at Shamrock’s, put on by Humble Walk. This month the stories were pretty heavy. They usually are. Loss, divorce, abandonment… And Communist Daughter’s music isn’t exactly light hearted either. Which made it a perfect match. And then half way through a song Johnny forgot the words. Not just fumbling and carrying on, but music stop, come to a halt, no words. It broke all kinds of tension, let a bit of release into the room, and as soon as Molly whispered them into his ear there were smiles, laughter, and the song started back up.

All three performances were amazing and professional, but the human and vulnerable moments… That was the space that let the rest of us in. That’s where we connected with the performers and with each other. It’s a gift to be human.


Posted: February 5th, 2014
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