Last night, I went to the Troubadour to see The Low Anthem. They’re a folk group from Rhode Island. They all play several different instruments, and rotate them throughout the set. The lead singer, Ben Knox Miller, has a voice that will break your heart in a million ways. Jeffrey Prystowsky switches back and forth from the drums to the upright bass to shakers made out of pill bottles and drum sticks. He has this sweet and gentle low voice that warms up their harmonies when they sing all together. Then there’s Jocie Adams, who used to work for NASA (whoa!), who has this quiet intensity that reels you in. It’s hypnotizing. She plays the clarinet, dulcimer, these neat bells that she bows, bass, guitar, keys, trumpet and probably so much more. Oh, and she totally wails when she sings. So inspiring to watch as a female musician. She makes me really want to get out there and take some risks and hone in on everything that I’m doing.
The first experience I had with The Low Anthem was back in May of this year. My friend, Ben White, (and one of my favorite local songwriters), had been talking them up for some time, and we and a bunch of friends all went to see them play at the Gene Autry Museum. I used to go to there when I was a kid. My dad was always into old western movies and would drag the family to the Lone Pine film festival, and to the museum and we’d always dress up. So going back there after so many years was very nostalgic.
The concert was pretty magical. It started to rain, and they had to turn off the p.a. and moved all their instruments under the tunnel entrance, and the whole crowd gathered around to hear them play the rest of their set acoustic.
The whole experience was really inspiring, so I wrote them a tribute song about that show. I recorded it the other night at my house, rocking a few sm58s, an mbox and audacity. Then I handmade a cdcase out of some scrapbooking paper, and I did a portrait drawing of them to put on the front cover, and wrote a nice note on the back.
I went to the show with my friend, Serge. I was excited about it the whole day. It rained the whole time I was recording the song. Then when I got to the show, Serge and I stood in line for food, and Jocie was right in front of me! I froze up and got really nervous and shy. Serge and I sat at the bar right next to them, and I kept glancing over, and she was in the middle of a conversation with her friend. The longer I waited, the more nervous I got. Serge laughed, because he’s helped me out with so many projects and I’ve played so many shows it was silly to see me get shy. She got up to leave, and I finally talked to her, and told her I how inspired it was hearing their music and seeing them at the museum. I gave her the song, and she said it was one of the sweetest things anybody’s done for them. She put it in a little bag she had at her side. “It may not look like much, but that’s where all the important stuff goes!”
Then we watched the show and it was everything I hoped it would be. And of course, I ran into Ben White there, too!