The Gang’s Back Together: Acoustic Night at Neumos

Jon Russell and friends at Neumos

Jon Russell and friends at Neumos

There’s been a shift in the music scene lately, have you felt it? In the heady days of The Head and the Heart (HATH), Hey Marseilles, Campfire OK and Bryan John Appleby we couldn’t get enough of the “americana” sound. Now it’s almost a punchline as we’re gnashing our teeth and wishing for something new, or at least something more. Our most cherished groups are out on the road trying to make something of themselves and we’re left with quite the void.

Tomo Nakayama at Neumos

Tomo Nakayama at Neumos

There are a lots of fledgling bands trying to fill that gap with more dance-able music like The Fame Riot, The Invisible Shivers, The Hoot Hoots, Kithkin and even some older faves like The Tea Cozies. As excited as I am for fresh talent to enter the scene, it’s always nice to have a little throwback… you know, enter a time machine and get back to that happy vibe so readily available about two years ago.

Well, I had one such opportunity earlier this month at Neumos: Jon Russell of HATH has stepped out on his own a bit writing some songs with acoustic accompaniment that would lull even the most savage music fan. Joining him on stage were the incomparable Tomo Nakayama of Grand Hallway and Damien Jurado with sets of their own keeping it low-key with simple acoustic performances as well.

Damien Jurado and friends at Neumos

Damien Jurado and friends at Neumos

One special treat for the audience was Damien’s vocal accompaniment of several well-known female singers from the Pacific-Northwest including Shelby Earl, Ashlea Tegman of Pretty Broken Things, Kirsten Wenlock of Elk and Boar, Anna-Lisa Notter of Hannalee among several others. It was a gorgeous combination of soulful, heartbreaking lyrics by Jurado backed by equally beautiful and angelic harmonies by the ladies.

The second treat of the evening came during Jon’s set as he brought several musical friends up on stage at key points throughout the performance. Josiah, his fellow vocalist from HATH was on stage a majority of the time lending his wonderfully complimentary voice to Jon’s as well as some strumming of the guitar. Other stage-dwellers included Charity Thielen and Chris Zasche of HATH as well as Daniel Blue of Motopony.

By the time I walked out of that sold-out Neumos’ show with the last of the stragglers, I realized I’d gotten that rare chance. The one where you get to step back in time and be in a place that felt like home once again. A place where everyone wishes they could stay but knows they can’t. We must change and move on, move forward. New music will come in and rock our socks off, the bands we have come to cherish and love will either fade away or make something of themselves… but we’ll always have the memories of that crazy night on the porch at Doe Bay or that sold-out room going dead silent as perfect harmonies begin floating above our heads like smoke. That’s what keeps us coming back for more, coming back to be there for the next memorable performance.

 

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