(You can find a playlist of the artists I saw this week at the bottom of this piece.)
This past weekend my concert adventures brought me to the town of Athens, Ohio, just adjacent to the smaller town of Nelsonville, where I helped curate a show at a beautiful old theater called Stewart’s Opera House. The show was part of a series of concerts I’ve done based around the theme of my book, Your Song Changed My Life. It was there that I got to ask one of my new favorite singers Adam Torres, the Scandinavian duo My bubba and the brilliant songwriter John Paul White about the music that’s changed them. Adam picked “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen, and My bubba performed Bob Dylan‘s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.”
John Paul White chose a song that his father loved dearly, a song made popular by Slim Whitman in the 1960s, called “I Remember You.” It was a magic night, ending with four brilliant singers gathering around single microphone for a rendition of another ‘60s classic, “Stand By Me” — the first song John Paul White ever sang into a microphone. Thanks to Josh Antonuccio, Scripps College of Communications and Tim Peacock at Stuart’s Opera House for having me.
The night before, I was treated to a show by artists from Athens, Ohio at the Little Fish Brewery. The event was organized by Adam Remnant, formerly of Athens’ own Southeast Engine (he and his band opened but I missed them). Other bands included Mobile Home (I came as they were finishing and didn’t get any good shots), Water Witches and then Caitlin Kraus. It was a night of music that felt formative and fun.
Back in Washington D.C. earlier in the week I saw a brilliant show from the British singer Kate Tempest. Kate is a poet, a playwright, a singer and a community unifier. She performed her entire album, Let Them Eat Chaos — a record filled with a novel’s worth of characters, individually caught up in life’s turmoil. Its story is a giant, passionate plea to us all, to explore empathy and love to all of those around us. You must experience this show.
The previous night was pretty much the opposite of Kate Tempest’s show; a fun frolic filled with pop from the Parisian artist Jain. The audience was filled with children, gathered down at the foot of the stage, and adults partying behind them. A lovely night.