I sat in on a few conference sessions today
– emerging issues in the music industry
– piracy, streaming and other on-line issues
– the use of emails versus social media in band promotion and
– a great interview with Roseanne Cash about her album The List and her upcoming release The River and The Thread which features Amy Helm, John Paul White, Allison Moorer and Derek Trucks.
We wandered down the hill and found Dunn Bros Cafe, a place I finally remembered from a previous visit – good coffee, food and free WiFi. This will become a daily ritual.
The first music event of the day was Communion Presents. Communion is an artist-led organisation co-founded by Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons) that combines elements of live promotion, publishing, recording and production to create a hub for songwriters and musicians to develop and flourish.
This was held at the Downtown Presbyterian Church and Jenny and I got there as the first act Black Prairie started – an interesting six-piece outfit – gypsy-influences perhaps, somewhat discordant at times until the traditional verse and chorus song structure kicks in for a while – their playing is rousing and evocative, rocking and jam grass but maybe not for all tastes. I particularly liked their tribute to Richard Manuel of The Band.
Bear’s Den is a three-piece from London, beautiful harmonies – two guitars, one acoustic and one electric and the drummer (who also sometimes played bass at the same time!). The sound in the large, square, flat-topped church was brilliant. Holly Williams was in the audience. Willy Mason was up next – nice voice and guitar work – the songs were largely slow, almost funereal. Maybe too much so without relief and lyrically a little predictable. While sitting there we met Brad Cole, a musician playing at the Bluebird Cafe on Sunday. We may go see him.
The Lone Bellow followed. I have written about them previously on this site but have never seen them in the flesh. They are the original deal, unpredictable with serious light and shade, rise and fall in their playing, passionate and urgent, soaring harmonies sang with evangelical fervor. Music steeped in traditional and organic roots. Mesmerizing stuff.
The day got even better as we ventured to The Mercy Lounge and Cannery Ballroom, where we saw John Fullbright (great, with a lot of new material), Bear’s Den (brilliant again), Sons Of Fathers (impressive), Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers (excellent and fresh sounding) and Cody Canada and The Departed (love Cody’s work with Cross Canadian Ragweed – this combo has shared vocals and a rockier groove – this didn’t quite work for me).