This year I have been trying something new to me. I’m trying my hands at a little music or concert review. It’s a chance to experiment with this nascent methodology I’m developing. The posts have been some of the most commented upon on Facebook and even on the blog. Thanks for everyone’s engagement!
Though not the beginning, certainly the central review is this duo about Mumford and Sons and eschatological banjos. Cathleen Falsani was in town and we had a great time at these shows. These concerts are all about the eschaton, transcendence, immanence, and banjos. There are always banjos. I know.
At the 2012 Wild Goose, for an afternoon set at a tent tucked away on the backwoods of the festival site, a young North Carolina band blew minds and won fans. More than just a band — more like a multicolored movement of sonic jubilee — David Wimbish and the Collection carry the celebratory consciousness, lyrical significance, and live energy that have made bands like Mumford & Sons or Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros the darlings of the current folk-pop moment.
In August 2013, the Collection will open this year’s festival on the main stage with a Thursday night set sure to thrill us. Then, they will support Phil Madeira’s Friday night set. In the meantime, the Collection are furiously raising funds on Kickstarter for their next album, a surprisingly hopeful take on death called Ares Moriendi. I recently caught up with David Wimbish and convinced him to take a break from writing, recording, fundraising, and preparing for Wild Goose to answer a few questions.
Our friends and up-and-coming musicians Branches trekked all the way from California and stopped by our office in D.C. last week to play a couple of their songs during their East Coast tour!
Their songs explore the ideas of doubt, faith, loneliness, love, and above all, hope for life as it was meant to be.
Best friends turned band-mates, the lady and gentlemen of Branches are an independent, self-writing and self-producing collective. Birthed in a living room in the suburbs of Los Angeles in 2010, Tyler, Natalie, Jacob, Mitch, Tyler, and Mike have since spent their time together making friends, playing shows, and writing and recording the songs for their EPs ("O, Light!", "Cabin", "Covers", "Songs For Christmas") and their full-length ("Thou Art The Dream", released 2/12).
Freelance Whales’ performance on Wednesday was a bit like my experience with Hurricane Sandy: One minute was jubilation at the prospect of no work for two days, and the next minute was a mellowed out restlessness, presumably from staying inside for too long.
That is definitely not to say that the performance was by any means terrible or disengaging. Rather, it simply means that the group from Queens meandered through most of their current catalogue, which consisted of the poppy, upbeat Weathervanes and the recently released, mellow, ambient Diluvia.
For popular catchy songs like “Generator ^ First Floor,” “Hannah,” or “Ghosting,” the crowd was quick to nod their heads, raise their hands, and sing along.
If I were given one word to describe New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra, probably best known for singing the female part on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” it would be eccentric.
But that word is based almost entirely on her live show, where — after dimming the lights and playing the theme for The Godfather over the 9:30 Club’s speakers on Tuesday — Kimbra walked onto the stage, decked out in sleek elevator shoes, a fluffy dress laden with glitter and color (which eventually became a tutu), and what looked like pom poms draped over her shoulders. She would’ve looked even more out of place if her drummer wasn’t rocking a sweet high top fade.
But, even though concerts are performances — and as such necessitate an element of spectacle — the music obviously remains the reason people flock to see their favorite musicians.
Two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Timothy O'Leary sat in an audience of 2,000 New Yorkers listening to the Brooklyn Philharmonic perform a concert about terrorism — the 1985 murder of an American tourist by members of the Palestine Liberation Front on a Mediterranean cruise ship. It was one of the most powerful moments he'd ever had in a theater.
Terrorism stories are rarely happy stories, and yet the path O'Leary has taken — from bringing the controversial opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" to St. Louis last year to a Sept. 11 memorial concert on Sept. 9 — ends with a hopeful, permanent pairing of faith and the arts in St. Louis.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Amnesty International has released a new song, "Toast to Freedom," recorded by nearly 50 artists from around the world.
The original tracks for the song were recorded in Levon Helm's famed studio in Woodstock, N.Y., known as "The Barn," where acclaimed artists like the Black Crowes and My Morning Jacket have made recordings and where Helm, a four-time Grammy winner, for years stages his intimate, multi-artist concert performances known as the “Midnight Ramble.” (Helm passed away in April after a long battle with cancer.)
Artists who sing and/or play on the recording includ Kris Kristofferson, Roseanne Cash, Keb Mo, Carly Simon, Marianne Faithful, Donald Fagen (of Steeley Dan), Sunny Landreth, Shawn Mullens, Ewan McGregor (who knew he could sing so nicely?) and the late Mr. Helm himself.
Have a listen to the song and read about the "Electric Burma" concert later this month in Ireland honoring Burmese justice champion Aung San Suu Kyi, where some of the "Toast to Freedom" artists will perform the song live, inside the blog ...
When I moved to Washington, D.C., I—like perhaps most other 20-somethings—imagined this place as a hub of both political thought and non-profit zeal; the coexistence of both worlds, all to change society. Lofty ideals, right? Perhaps.
Ideal, meet the venue Busboys and Poets plus friends and co-laborers in the fight for justice: Faiths Act, ONE, Malaria No More, and the 9/11 Unity Walk. Last night, a handful of musicians and spoken-word artists united in faith and activism under a common cause: World Malaria Day concert for Sierra Leone.
"This is the season to celebrate miracles," President Obama said. "This is the season to celebrate the story of how, more than two thousand years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among cattle and sheep. He was no ordinary child. He was the manifestation of God’s love. And every year we celebrate His birth because the story of Jesus Christ changed the world. For me, and for millions of Americans, His story has filled our hearts and inspired our lives. It moves us to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive; to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity."