I Miss My Wife and I Miss My Home: A Night with Anna Tivel and Jeffrey Martin
Ever since relocating from Philadelphia to the city of Pueblo, CO, I’ve found myself searching for good live music. I happened on Songbird Cellars in the downtown area one night and they informed me that two singer-songwriters were coming to Pueblo the following week. The show happened last night, and it was awesome.
The first performer, Anna Tivel, started the night with an emotional song. Her voice is like a haunting whisper, and the way in which she plays guitar matched perfectly to her vocal style. Three songs really stuck out to me during her set. The first of the three she wrote as a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I believe she said it was called “A Couple Pencils and a Photograph,” and it told a great story. Written from multiple perspectives of the terror attack in France, the song evoked an emotional response I hadn’t had in years to anything other than a love song. The chorus that closed the song made me reflect on how I would feel if put in a similar circumstance.
The second song that resonated with me, “Dial Tone,” really hit home. I’ve had a lot of conversations with family and friends since moving here and I feel at times like I am in the background. I’m no longer there for face-to-face interactions. I’m talking but nothing comes out of any worth. I am currently the “Dial Tone” in life. The way Tivel sang, “And you’re the dial tone,” over her melodic fingerpicking style got me thinking about home, and my family and friends. Great songs should make you reflect on your own life.
Finally, the song about “bed sheets, not marriage,” called “Wild Blue Field,” was beautiful. From the message to the melody to the supporting chords, I can’t say a bad word about it. The song’s gorgeous description of being in love and spending time with who you love hit home for me. I miss my wife more after seeing that performance last night.
After a brief break, Jeffrey Martin took the stage. He is really tall, and also a brilliant songwriter. Tivel graced the stage with her presence on mandolin and fiddle for some of his numbers. They make a great duo. I took notes on four songs out of his hour-long set.
The first song I wanted to write about, “Liza,” was inspired by the journals of a grandfather Martin said he hardly knew. He wrote about the woman he should have married, and the song evoked a bittersweet feeling.
He went on to play a fun song about a woman he sees at a bar, called “High Heel Shoes,” and his songwriting and storytelling set the scene perfectly. The song had me recalling times when I’ve been a wingman for a friend — it was all of the things my friend would say when he saw a woman, that “she was looking at him, and definitely not me.”
A truly haunting and scary song, “Thief and a Liar,” featured Tivel on mandolin. It speaks about the 2008 financial crisis in a truly creative way. It packed deep, depressing lyrics that really made me think about how the financial crash impacted different walks of life — from bankers to homeowners.
The last tune that struck me was about a town that I had visited numerous times in college. “Coal Town” is a eulogy for a town called Centralia. Beneath the Earth, the Centralia coal veins are on fire after a mishap nearly half a century ago. Martin’s voice echoed and resonated through the many descriptive lines about the fire and its impact. It made me reflect on a special place that my dad and I used to go to on our way home from the Appalachian Mountains, called Ashland, the neighboring town.
This show was a great experience. As I am beginning to settle into life here in Pueblo, I am looking forward to more nights like that. I’d like to take the inspiration from the show and continue to work on old folk songs that I had written in the past, and write more for the future.