Guggenheim GrottoWhat needs to be said about a perfect Berkshire night that ends like this? Other than it did not end until we sang a song by EVERY IRISH MALE SINGER until 3AM in the barn.
Dan Mangan is “Big in Canada” but relatively unknown here. He agrees to play a show on the day before he is booked at the Albany Tulip Festival ($!!) and proceeds to literally kill it in front of a crowd who has no idea who this supremely talented guy is. A rousing “Robot’s” ALMOST ends a set that brings us a batch of new songs off the record that quite a few critics will put in their top 10 releases of the year. We say ALMOST because Dan follows it up with an amazing rendition of Elliot Smith’s “Waltz #2” that Dan calls a “kind of a perfect song”. Dan’s final on stage words are, essentially, praise for house concerts and music fans as he quotes Margaret Mead “ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
We stay up until 3AM learning more about the intricacies of Canadian politics (while drinking copius amounts of red wine) than I might have thought possible. In the morning, Dan leaves with his very own robot made from cardboard and duct tape
Strand of Oaks
So everyone’s prepared for Joe Pug because of all the videos but then I introduce Strand of Oaks which must be confusing. Tim comes out all trucker hat and quiet and simply kills everyone with that sound and that voice – all hushed urgency and dread with underlying hope. A friend comes up to me after the set and just stares at me for about three beats then says “Holy Shit”. Exactly, I say.
On a Tuesday night in April Joe Pug kicks off The Billsville House Concert series. Yeah, we hear “the new Bob Dylan” once a week but there are few who can draw close to that comparison – Joe’s one of them. He closes the show by asking me “Doug, is there something you want to hear?” The question jolts me out of the trance I’ve been in for the last 90 minutes induced by having one of my Top 5 performers of the last year playing music in our living room. I request “Call It What You Will” and Joe delivers an effortless, beautifully nuanced version that I’ll remember always.
Call it what you will, I’m heartbroken still, words are just words.