Danny Schmidt, The Green Door Store, Brighton, UK. July 1st 2011
The MAN OF MANY MOONS returned to Brighton having last played in the city, with his partner, Carrie Elkin, on Thanksgiving Day 2009, for promoters Gilded Palace of Sin in what was their final show. Fond memories of a bittersweet evening are still firmly etched in Schmidt’s memory as he paid tribute to tonight’s promoters, Drifter Promotions, for carrying on the mantle and enabling musicians to continue performing in one of Britain’s most creative and artistically diverse cities.
The Green Door Store, tucked underneath the railway station, is a relatively new addition to the live music scene. Essentially a late night bar with a cellar-like side room set up for live performances, which pleasingly attracted a respectable number for tonight’s show, it proved to be an ideal setting for Schmidt’s brand of softly intoned words and music.
Over one and a half hours Schmidt’s choice of material not only looked back a decade or so with the earliest song being McCreary’s Pipes from 2001’s ENJOYING THE FALL but also stole a look into the future by featuring a couple of unrecorded songs. The first was Cries of Shadows and the other, which had only been written whilst being driven around on this tour, wasn’t titled however Love Wins Again would probably be as good a guess as any.
Perfectly relaxed throughout, sitting on a chair, playing his individually designed acoustic Martin guitar, Schmidt drew much appreciation from the audience as he punctuated the songs with stories of how they came to be written. Some are autobiographical and indeed very personal, whilst others draw inspiration from the world around him.
This Too Shall Pass falls into the former category as it is based upon an inscription on a ring given to him by a friend when Schmidt faced some pretty serious health issues. Other songs reflecting a personal theme were Two Guitars (a response to a letter written to him by friend and fellow musician Paul Curreri) Leaves Are Burning (about trying to kick the smoking habit, which he is trying to do once again!) and Company of Friends. He dedicated this to a couple in the audience who had hosted a house concert for him two nights previously. In fact what he tried to do tonight was to not duplicate the songs performed at said house concert. He said that he couldn’t recall his set list from that night but I’m sure that they wouldn’t in the least have minded any repeat performances.
In the latter category he performed Guilty By Association Blues (“I hope you don’t mind if I interject with some American politics”) and Almost Round the World (an amusing indictment on how social networking means that the potential for miscommunication has increased exponentially).
Schmidt’s poetic lyrical style, has received wide critical acclaim and he has been compared with both Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. That is indeed high praise and as a tribute to Dylan he recorded Buckets of Rain on his latest CD and finished up his set with this song. Eloquence personified.
Up against a tight curfew (the venue also hosts late, late night/early morning events) Schmidt performed one encore song Houses Sing which he dedicated to Carrie Elkin “because I miss her”. Explaining that they completed on a house purchase in June last year and the first night they spent together at the house was not until September as their touring schedules as travelling musicians conspire to keep them apart more often that they would wish. Whilst that’s possibly a vein to be seamed for forthcoming albums, he seems to be doing just fine touring the latest one and as I filtered out into the warm summer night I too mentally thanked Drifter Promotions for another wonderful evening of live music. Jela Webb