Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sounds: Communion US Tour

This past Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend the first ever Communion US Tour. I have been looking forward to this tour since it was announced earlier this fall.

Communion is a music collective based in London, England.  It is a community that helps find, promotes and supports up and coming musicians. I have had many musician friends and I have witnessed how hard it is to share your craft on your own, so I love this idea and being part of it. I figure musicians need listeners, right? I am a very good listener.  Also, I play a mean tambourine, you know, if anyone needs one. Communion had previously focused on mainly English artists and setting up shows in the UK which means us US folks could buy and fall in love with the music but were missing that human, seeing them in person, connection. Not any longer.

Communion now has an office in NYC and this fall launched a tour in the US to help introduce and showcase come wonderful musicians and bands, from both sides of the pond. 

This tour, and more particular, this show also gave me the chance to introduce a couple of my friends to some new bands. It is one thing, a great thing, to give someone a mix tape, but sometimes you have to drag them along to witness the magic of a live show. It can be a little brave to ask a friend to come with you to see a band that they have never heard of before. Sometimes getting someone to trust my music, and have an open mind, is the hardest thing.  But so far, I hope, I haven’t let anyone down.

Our local stop on the tour was at Jammin Java in Vienna. It is small venue, which I loved/hated. I loved that it was small so there was no wall (literally or figuratively) between the artist and the audience, it felt like we were one big old community of lonely hearts.  I hated it because I so wanted so many more people to see and fall in love with all these artists. Why isn’t the whole DC metro area here tonight? WHY?

Lauren Shera ushered in the night. She is a graduate of the renowned Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Lauren plays a whole arsenal of instruments, but on Tuesday, it was just her and her guitar. Have you ever heard someone sing and think that you would give up everything, even chocolate, to sing like that? I have. On Tuesday night. It wasn’t just the sound of her voice, but it was the soulfulness and truth behind the voice. 

One of the beautiful things about this tour was that there was no dead time in between performers. No breaking down one band, sitting up the next, sound checking, etc. Lauren invited most of the members of the David Mayfield Parade on stage with her for her last song. After she finished the band remained on stage and David Mayfield, came, I kid you not, somersaulting in a suit, on stage.

David Mayfield is known from his previous band, Cadillac Sky and being the older brother of Jessica Lea Mayfield. He formed the Parade almost a year ago. Their music is fun and fantastic, but seeing them live brings a whole new level to idea of the style points. Part big tent revival (“Jesus Take the Wheel!), part stand-up comedy routine and part rock n’roll force of nature. Some may call David Mayfield a little eccentric, but he and his band have the talent to back it all up.  His guitar playing skills = wow. He can play while being stuck in a chair. He can play will storming around the stage and jumping in the air. The parade is rounding out by Wes Langlois on guitar , Kristen Weber on fiddle, Shelby Means on upright bass, and Joe Giotta on drums.
(this video doesn't show the ferociousness of their live set, but its my favorite song of theirs, so yeah.)

And true to no dead time between sets, DMP came into the audience for their last song, so the next band can set up on stage. And when I said came in the audience, I mean David and Wes sat next to us.  On this seating arrangement, my friend A stated, “I could lick Wes’s guitar, not that I would, but I could.”

And last but not least, was Matthew and the Atlas.  MatA has mostly been known in the US as that band that opened up for Mumford and Sons, but now they are starting to be known for themselves and their lovely music. And that is why you should always, always get to a venue early to see the opening bands. You just might fall in love. The Matthew of the band is Matthew Hegarty.  I feel the whole band has been created around the soulful sound of his voice.  In his voice, I swear you can hear 100 years of love and heartache. Lindsay West, a notable singer/songwriter on her own balances Matthew’s roughness with fragile melodies. Harry Cargill on banjo (banjo!), Tommy Field on drums and Dave Millar on accordion each added their own delicate and powerful take on music storytelling. And just to prove me that they are indeed a true British band, there was awkward stage banter. This band will melt your heart, guaranteed.

At the end of the night and in true folk music form, all three bands joined together on stage for a huge hootenanny. I couldn't find my camera the night of the show, so all pictures I have of that the night are at the mercy of my phone. 

To me is all what music should be about: to not feel so alone, to make sense of the world, to feel yourself, and to be a small part of a whole.

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