Like anyone else I get into ‘funks’…a lot. Running a media outlet solo can have its draw backs and also its benefits. I don’t have to rely on anyone to get their shit in, but I also don’t have anyone else to rely on to help or keep me afloat. These past few weeks have been the depressed part of the manic-depressive element of running a media outlet. Well, that was until this past weekend.
When I get like that and question “why” or “there is only so much readership and support”, I need to look back on weekends like this past one and realize that we are doing something special with some extremely wonderful people. Early Saturday morning I left the house with wife in tow and headed for a quick, early session at Riverview with Kramer and Sam. We would be tracking 2 songs for Locals Covering Locals in a short period before we had to head to Club Passim for our showcase of artists from volume 2.
Arriving at the studio I headed upstairs to chat with the boys, set a plan and shortly after Will, Bessie, and Amato showed up to track Ian Fitzgerald’s “Melinda Down the Line”. What unfolded was beautiful and magic and something that you just don’t get to experience every day. The kind of moments where you close your eyes and just ask yourself “is this really my life?”. Dumbfounded by the heart and the soul that they poured into their friends song I just kind of stood there and realized I was supposed to be filming…so I did. After the trio finished up, another trio could be heard downstairs tuning up and figuring out their song. The Whiskey Boys were also in studio to cover…well, me. I am not sure there is a more humbling experience for a songwriter than when friends of yours whom you have such a respect for, want to cover one of your tunes. With that WB charm, they took my tune and added their own virtuoso flair with all sorts of interesting stops and a killer mandolin solo. Kramer later laid down bass on it too.
Then we were off to the real headache of the day. I have been forming an ulcer over this Passim show for the past few weeks. Will anyone show up? Will anyone care? Pre-sale tickets were pretty rough and I wanted a great audience there for these truly phenomenal musicians. We soundchecked and there wasn’t a line out there door…got some food…still no line out the door…I headed back to the green room to collect my thoughts and told myself “Ok, well it will be an intimate show, that’s fine, that’s cool”. Then I headed back out and saw the hoard of people that was beginning to sit down at tables and around the outside of the room.
Jake Hill kicked the day off for us and it was a cover-thon. He got all the way through his take of Hayley Sabella’s “Small Things” perfectly and followed up by saying it was the most nervous he had even been playing a song…and she wasn’t even there for it. That really sets the tone for this entire project and should be our mantra. These are super talented and confident songwriters that are covering songs from their friends that they love and care about. There is a level of “what if I don’t do it justice” for sure, but that’s what makes it all the more special when it comes out the other side as a wonderful tribute to one another. He also laid in some Prine for good measure. Well done, Mr. Hill.
Next Haunt the House took the stage and gave a stirring and moving short set of songs. Everytime I see Haunt the House play I am moved to tears. I don’t even care, I will fully admit that. Will’s songs and the band together just work in such a beautifully heartbreaking way that I don’t get anywhere else. These guys are one of the best acts you can catch live in a setting like this. A small, listening room where you hang on every word and the entire crowd is at a hush. Magic, truly magic.
To liven things up a bit, my buds in Wise Old Moon took the stage, and while they opted out of their cover, they gave homage to the Meadows Brothers by saying how much they love their tunes. Connor unleashed his personality on stage and gets you moving and shaking with their songs. They got the blood moving in the room a bit for sure, I was tapping and a shaking in my seat while they played their warm and uptempo blend of American Roots.
Well, if the Wise Old Moon boys warmed up your blood during their set, the next set popped the mercury out of the top of the thermometer. I introduced Julie Rhodes as a “powerhouse”…and DAMN, yes its true. The girl has a voice like a freight train that will knock you down and then drag you along while you thrill at every moment. The band was prime with great back and forth guitar solos from Danny Roaman and Scott Thompson, Sonny Jim blowing his harp like a monster, and Rich holding it all together on the upright bass like the glue of the band. I think people’s mouths were wide open and their hands clapping the entire set until the closing number. A brand new and completely breathtaking tune that brought the energy down a notch but kept the emotion sky high. Phew!!!
The Whiskey Boys rounded the afternoon out for us with their virtuoso, Punch Brothers-esque smart brand of bluegrass…and they even worked in the cover tune they did of mine. Mark Whitaker took the lead for a couple and the band was on fire as a quartet with Chris Sartori on the upright. Dave Delaney’s banter is almost as entertaining as his songs, and the trading of the solos between himself, Mark and Jordan Santiago set the Passim stage on fire and left it burning hot after they ended their set.
What really meant the most to me was the love in the room all afternoon. All the musicians were around for the entire show and supporting each other. Even saying, “holy crap, I never heard them play that song before. They are amazing”. A few of our Newport Folk Family was in attendance, our Cambridge/Passim family was in attendance, other musicians, music lovers, even actual family members of mine and the bands were there too. What made this all the more worth it for me was that my friend Steve sent me a message after the show saying that on his way out his son looked up at him and said “thanks for taking me to that Dad”. That to me says it all.
So, thank you all for giving me hope that we are doing something good. This is just the beginning for Locals Covering Locals…pretty soon we will be like ‘Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 73’, and hopefully you won’t be sick of us yet…