Etcetera, and Damien Jurado
The club was only about half full, but the audience was completely engrossed–rapt, even, listening wordlessly. Jurado does so remind me of a clean-cut Richard Buckner. His songs are more clean cut, too–no rambling. And his lyrics really connect. They’re the kind that wind up on a million mix-tapes (what do you call mix CDs?) shared between struggling or grieving lovers. And it was definitely date night. Another time, another mood (less twitchy) I’m sure I would’ve loved it, but I started thinking I should head out to the kickoff event of the Tucson Folk Festival, so I left after about five songs.
Part of my problem with Jurado’s set, I think, was that I’d been so taken with his opening act, Laura Gibson. Until I found her 2006 If You Come to Greet Me on the merch table before the show, I couldn’t place her. Then I remembered that record charmed the heck out of me at the time. She’s just released Beats of Seasons, again on Hush, home of the Decemberists, a number of whom contributed.
Somehow Gibson completely skirts the quirky-indie-girl category, manifesting all of its charms and none of its affectations. Her stage presence seems a completely genuine mix of smarts and warmth, her songs, likewise. There’s a load of depth and variety both within and among them, not including any navel-gazing nor whining.
Gibson, and her two, multi-instrumentalist accompanists have the musicianship to texture her songs into irresistable listening. Besides Gibson’s accoustic guitar, instrumentation included a singing saw, harmonium, banjo and keyboard. I was so pulled in by the complexity and charm, I kept putting off taking a cigarrette break on the patio just so I wouldn’t miss anything.
So I left the Jurado set and was half way across downtown, hoofing it to Old Town Artisans for the Folk Festival kick-off, when it dawned on me that, if I wasn’t in the mood for Damien Jurado, actual folk singers were probably going to put me over the edge.
I turned around and trekked all the way back to the Rialto Theatre, across from Hotel Congress, where a party for staff and friends of the Rialto was in full swing. What a good choice! Folks were playing Wii tennis and basketball on the theater’s big screen. Others played ping pong on the stage. There was free pizza and beer (I got there too late for the sushi), and a bunch of old and new friends were there. Fun was being had.
Live music started around ten, and I stayed to get a pop fix from La Cerca. Check them out if you’re into obscure regional favorite pop bands. The lineup around lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Andrew Gardner, includes drummer Sergio Mendoza of the Jons. Sergio’s much bigger, personal project, is the rockin’, 15-player, mambo outfit, Sergio Mendoza y Su Orkestra. They’re opening for Calexico at the Rialto, tonight.
Speaking of Calexico, I ran into Joey Burns at an art gallery opening on Congress before the Laura Gibson/Damien Jurado show. Carl Hanni was spinning the perfect mood of vinyl, changing up with the crowd. He’s amazing. It’s always fun, and, still, ever surprising to be able to chat with the Calexico folks on their home turf. I smiled at the coincidence when Garden Ruin came on the PA at Congress between Gibson’s and Jurado’s set.
All in all, it was a great night on Congress Street. And tonight, there’s another: Vienna Teng and Ben Solee play at Congress, while Calexico and Sergio Mendoza’s Orkestra play across the street at the Rialto. I need a clone!