Sunday, April 03, 2005

Last night Kevin and I saw Richard Shindell in concert. If you haven't heard of Mr. Shindell and are a fan of truly eloquent song writing, excellent musicianship (is that a word?), and just all around great listening music, I suggest you check him out. We've listened to him for a couple of years... Kevin first heard one of his songs, "Cold Missouri Waters" - probably on KPIG when we were in Santa Cruz- and learned to play it. The song is really chilling (no pun intended, honestly) and i was always torn between wanting to hear it or defecting to a more uplifting tune in his repetoir. But then we got our hands on a disc he did with Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky called "Cry, Cry, Cry" and we were hooked. His 2002 live release, "Courier" was our cross-country soundtrack, especially fitting as many of the songs are ballands and stories about truckers on the long, long road.

Anyway, browsing the paper a couple of weeks ago, i noticed that he was lined up to play at the Waldo Theater in Waldoboro, Maine. Well... Waldoboro is a tiny town. Not the smallest of Maine towns, but it's the kind of place where you call up to reserve your tickets by just giving your name. No credit card to reserve. No picking them up in advance. Just "yup, the Callahans are coming." They pencil you in to the next available seats on the chart and you pay when you show up. Pretty cool. This was the first time we'd been there and we were pleased to discover that we were in the fourth row, but looking around at the, oh, maybe 15 rows total in the "orchestra" seating and the balcony just above our heads, it's obvious there really isn't a bad seat anywhere.

I wasn't sure what to expect... I like his music but his voice took a bit getting used to in repeated listening. It's really unique and doesn't really give away any of what the person might be like- but a live performance has made all the difference. After sitting through a tolerable opening act as opening acts go (a well meaning local guy who was just a bit trite and melodramatic for our tastes and had an unfortunate over production of sweat), Shindell came right out. And, well, he's great. Sweet and funny, confident on stage and intimate with the audience- it was a perfect venue to accentuate what a steller performer and artist he is. The stark contrast between his opening act who spelled it all out for you and Shindell's evocative, but subtle lyrics was amazing. So is the difference between a marginal and a high end guitar.

It's been so long since I've been to live music, I've forgotten what a treat it is, and how much I enjoy it; how important and powerful good, thought provoking and awe-inspiring artists and performers are to life and culture. What i like about Richard Shindell's music is that he lifts the stories and daily events that might otherwise get passed by and weaves them into beautiful, moving, and entertaining songs. It's so nice to walk away from a performance and feel so satisfied, savoring moments and songs and stories. Plus, it was a date with my sweetie, so it's tough to go wrong there ;)

Next weekend we're up to see the Battlefield Band, courtesy of my mom. I'll don my reviewers cap next Sunday and tell you how it goes. In the meantime, check out Richard Shindell if you like the folk thing... or, even if you don't.


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