Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Learning at the Bluebird

Went to the Bluebird Cafe tonight at the recommendation of Greg Bower (my go-to drummer for anything near Texas). He plays music with a guy named Zane Williams and Kylie Rae Harris, both writers.  Wayne Kirkpatrick and Susan Ashton were also there. Zane is a wordsmith whose songs are straight forward, emotional and tricky. He pulls them off well. Harris isn't tricky, but her songs work, she can sing and there's grit in her voice. Hadn't heard Ashton since the 80s. Like her voice -- in general I'm less taken by her melodic sense or lyrical sensibilities, although she had some great tunes too.

That's the thing that strikes me about Nashville and songs (or NYC and painting) -- there is such a wealth of quality material it's ridiculous, feels almost criminal. Maybe a bit like what traveling to Rome from Gaul or Ireland during Jesus' day might have been like -- I'm struck with the volume of cultural wealth and development -- and troubled by the fact that decadence in some form seems to go hand in hand with these gluts of cultural/aesthetic treasures. Mainly, though, I'm thankful for the chance to get to hear quality songs and learn from those who forged or birthed them.


Anonymous said...

I saw Susan Ashton back in the day, and was really unimpressed. She put on a boring show, talked too much, and most importantly - she dropped a lot of the hooks. It was apparent to me (even then) that a good producer had taken mediocre material and dressed it up. I am sure she has worked hard, but something got lost...

Jonathan Reuel said...

Interesting that you mention "dropping the hooks." That's a helpful concept to me, and it makes sense -- good producers would never drop a hook (they'd find and highlight them) but if they produce an artist but don't actually develop their sensibilities then it would make sense that they would "drop" them.

Producing a great record and developing a good live show are only loosely connected. I think you have the instincts and a good chunk of the skills it would take to develop artists and live shows. Now add to that someone who could write songs and develop good songwriters, and we'd have the start of something!