Talented singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews began playing guitar and writing her own original songs while just a teenager in Phoenix, and she began performing live before graduating high school. Soon enough Andrews (above, performing “Table for One” live in studio for KEXP FM) became a backup singer and session guitarist for numerous artists, including the likes of Damien Jurado and Jimmy Eat World. But thanks to her own work, combining country, folk and pop, she’s earned the reputation of a songwriter’s songwriter. Andrews’ most recent release, Honest Life (stream it below)—which she considers a coming-of-age record—came out last year. It’s “an album at once elegant and deeply moving,” said Paste in a review comparing her to Emmylou Harris and Neko Case. “They’re excellent songs, expertly written, but Andrews’ voice is what makes them unforgettable.” Experience that voice live when Courtney Marie Andrews plays the early show on Monday night at Mercury Lounge.
Tag Archives: Damien Jurado
Damien Jurado – The Bowery Ballroom – November 6, 2016
Somewhat quietly, Damien Jurado has put out some of the best albums (in my opinion) of the past few years, and just as quietly, he took the stage at The Bowery Ballroom on a somewhat quiet Sunday night to run through a bunch of his songs. This time around he was performing solo, just his voice and an acoustic guitar. But before he began playing, he told the crowd he was “very relaxed right now,” and that more or less set the stage for a mesmerizing set of music. The show went through several phases: The short opening portion, set off by “Working Titles,” with Jurado singing, “Many nights you would hide from the audience,” was very introductory. His mellow, deadpan chitchat evoked a slightly hipper Steven Wright as Jurado explained that he hadn’t put on his “show clothes,” looking quite indie folk in ripped jeans and a Sub Pop sweatshirt. The next section was punctuated by vivid colors from the overhead lights, each song gaining an aura from the hue—heavy orange adding a glow to “Kola” as Jurado evoked imagery of “your name across my smile,” and a cosmic blue for “On the Land Blues.”
As the crowd fell into a pensive silence, the music picked up a hallucinogenic halo, Jurado’s vocals hazy with a natural reverb and his guitar crackling with a percussive energy. “TAQOMA,” off his latest album, Visions of Us on the Land, basked in orange and lime green, a transporting psychedelic sunshine. For the next phase, Jurado pulled back, almost channeling an alternate universe Neil Young, the songs almost playing themselves, intense and at times personal. The crowd loosened up toward the latter part of the show, somewhat emboldened by the relaxed atmosphere and the honesty from the stage, and the final portion felt like a conversation between Jurado and the audience, an extended back and forth bounced from daylight savings to New York City to unique kid names to Seattle and maybe back again. A request for “Rachel and Cali” was quickly granted and proved to be a highlight bathed in pinks and blues. The encore included “Everything Trying” with another stunning image of “I’ll be Sailing on your deep blue eyes,” and Jurado responding once more, quietly exclaiming, “We’re all so weird, isn’t it great?” —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Bowery Ballroom, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, Damien Jurado, Live Music, Lower East Side, Maraqopa, Mike Benigno, Music, Neil Young, New York City, Photos, Review, Visions of Us on the Land
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Surrounded by a city bursting with grunge music, Damien Jurado rose up in mid-’90s Seattle making a name for himself as an acoustic-folk singer-songwriter. More interested in blazing his own path rather than following the trail, he’s modeled his career after musicians with unpredictable discographies, like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Randy Newman—his work often filled with what AllMusic calls “concise, literate tales of quiet, everyday despair.” Recently, Jurado (above, performing “Exit 353” and “Kola” for Bird on the Wire) has been delving more into psychedelia, as witnessed on the ’70s-influenced trilogy of Maraqopa (stream it below), Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son (stream it below) and this year’s Visions of Us on the Land (stream it below). “As works of mood-altering music go, Jurado has upped the dosage with Visions. It’s a harrowing trip, led by a guide who’s all too familiar with the territory,” according to NPR Music. And AllMusic adds: “It’s an intense and trippy odyssey, one that should make fans old and new appreciative of Jurado’s depth.” Make your weekend last just a little bit longer with Damien Jurado at The Bowery Ballroom on Sunday night. Doug Keith opens the show.
Tags: Bob Dylan, Bowery Ballroom, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, Damien Jurado, Doug Keith, Live Music, Lower East Side, Maraqopa, Music, Neil Young, New York City, Preview, Randy Newman, Video, Visions of Us on the Land
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Sharon Van Etten – Warsaw – February 18, 2015
Sharon Van Etten is known and appreciated for her powerful voice and ability to craft evocative and often haunting songs like “Your Love Is Killing Me,” a blunt title with equally disquieting lyrics. So, it can be a illuminating experience to witness the author of such bleak sentiments in a live setting—as a sold-out crowd did last night at Warsaw—and realize that Van Etten also happens to be quite funny, self-deprecating and downright cheerful, even while singing lines like “I wanted to try for you/ Wanted to die for you/ Dramatic things” from “Leonard.”
The act of performing may be therapeutic, but it’s also clearly just a lot of fun for Van Etten, and she gave her hometown Brooklyn crowd a set that touched on material from her most recent album, Are We There, like “Tarifa,” “Taking Chances” and “Break Me,” as well as numbers from records both previous and forthcoming, “Love More,” “I Don’t Want to Let You Down,” plus even a lovely cover of Damien Jurado’s “Museum of Flight.” (“To those of you who know this song, air high five!”) Van Etten’s vocals were beautifully complemented by backup singer Heather Woods Broderick and rounded out with instrumentation that included flourishes of saxophone and harmonium.
The night’s final song began with a false start due to a guitar-tuning snafu, after which Van Etten charmingly poked fun at herself, and upon regaining composure (and finding the right key), the singer-songwriter and her band proceeded to play a searing version of “Serpents,” perhaps the set’s most intense and raw song. For her part, Van Etten seemed at home making lighthearted banter with the crowd and with the visceral bite of the song, while the audience was simply captivated by it all. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK
Foxygen – Mercury Lounge – May 15, 2013
Bicoastal buds Sam France (Olympia, Wash.) and Jonathan Rado (New York City) comprise the duo known as Foxygen. And after hearing their song “San Francisco,” this City by the Bay native couldn’t help but get hooked on the sounds reminiscent of late-’60s Haight Ashbury. After a close call at SXSW, the boys have rested and recovered to play a trio of New York City shows this week, culminating in a sold-out Mercury Lounge gig last night. Appropriately, the venue served as the breakthrough for the band since they passed along their Take the Kids Off to Broadway EP to eventual We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic producer Richard Swift (the Shins, Damien Jurado) at a Mynabirds show at the Merc in early 2011.
Amongst a largely male crowd, France greeted the crowd with an ecstatic “Wassup?” followed by a scream that opened into “Jesusss.” Clad in black, France pranced around stage singing “On Blue Mountain” and emphatically thrusting his fist into the air. His usual stage antics had him confessing, “I don’t care if I’m in trouble at all. I’m an idiot. I don’t care. I don’t blame you. I suck.” Fans soaked up his banter and rocked along to “In the Darkness” and “Make It Known.”
As bassist Justin Nijssen sipped from his bottle of wine, France took a moment to introduce his onstage cast of characters before getting into fan favorite “Shuggie,” to a sea of bobbing heads, and then Foxygen’s recent single, “No Destruction.” The remainder of the evening was set to a cacophony of France’s screeching vocals, organ chimes and heavy basslines. The frontman climbed atop amps and the drum kit for their recent LP’s title track, “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.” No encore was played: “Our shit’s broken,” announced France. But that didn’t seem to bother exiting concertgoers. One even playfully concluded, “I want what they are on.” —Sharlene Chiu
Tags: Damien Jurado, Foxygen, Jonathan Rado, Justin Nijssen, Mercury Lounge, Photos, Review, Richard Swift, Sam France, Take the Kids Off to Broadway, the Mynabirds, the Shins, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
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Jesse B. Marchant is a talented singer-songwriter with a classical training in guitar, but what you’ll probably first notice about the guy who makes and performs music by his initials, JBM, is his voice, which has earned him comparisons to Jim James and Justin Vernon. Marchant has a sold-out show with Damien Jurado at Mercury Lounge on 5/19, and the following week his second album, Stray Ashes, comes out. But today JBM is featured on The Bowery Presents Live. Watch him, above, playing “Ferry” at a metal shop in Brooklyn and then check him out playing the piano and talking about why he sometimes goes through long periods when he doesn’t want to listen to music. And, of course, make sure you subscribe to The Bowery Presents Live for plenty of performances, interviews and live-streamed shows.
John Vanderslice – Mercury Lounge – May 12, 2011
It takes a little bit extra to put on a successful show as just a duo. You need to have great songs or great chops and a superb drummer or there should be lots of guests or witty banter between songs or good use of multiple instruments and samples. Luckily for last night’s Mercury Lounge audience, John Vanderslice (and Jason Slota) had all of those things going for them. The Merc is so often the venue where you see the bands before they become the bands, but watching Vanderslice was observing a veteran totally at ease playing an intimate club filled with dedicated fans without worry about where his career is going or where it’s been. Looking like Dana Carvey playing the part of an indie rocker, he was often just as hilarious, plumbing the depths of his repertoire and barely attempting too many stripped-down versions of songs from his orchestral new album, White Wilderness.
The show had a looking-in-on-a-rehearsal vibe to it, with Vanderslice stopping once or twice to make sure samples were synched correctly or that a guest knew the chord changes. And guests there were, no less than six, making it feel even more like an informal jam session during what Vanderslice called “Audience Participation Month” (some audience members accepted the invitation to sit onstage during the entire 80-minute set). A guest vocalist and rhythm-guitar player added layers to “Trance Manual.” Mitch Marcus added saxophone in between a drum solo, dented guitar solo and sample bits on “Exodus Damage.” Ian Bjornstad joined in for “Underneath the Leaves,” and opener Damien Jurado came out for the encore.
Affable as ever, Vanderslice impressively dropped both a Simpsons and Nabokov reference into his introduction for old friend Bjornstad. Pushing the limits of what he felt the duo could do, Vanderslice and Slota perfectly playing the prog-pop composition of “Kookaburra” as a no-guest highlight. A show during Audience Participation Month had to end with the duo and friends in the middle of the floor of Mercury Lounge, with those in the audience shining their flashlight apps at the makeshift band so they could see while singing along. Jurado promptly proclaimed it the “best show of the tour” and the audience knew very well, they were appreciated. —A. Stein