Happy New Year! It’s that time of year where it’s out with the old and in with the new. For me, the one thing I’m going to do more this year is write about the music I’m experiencing. Here’s one tiny step forward.
Looking back on 2014, most of my writing was focused on technology and teaching endeavors. Things got a little lopsided. Throughout my adult life software and live music have been focal points for me. I’m increasingly adjusting to a growing family, growing career, teaching a class and life’s other responsibilities. Unfortunately time spent seeing, listening and writing about music has dwindled. Shutting down the Jerry Site last year after 16 years was a prime example.
Over the holiday break I had a little introspection time and realized this year I needed to get back into enjoying new music again. I need to get exposed to new artists and finding a better balance with my time. I needed to experience some new rock shows.
So the timing couldn’t have been better when my friend Mark of Three Dimes Down told me about another Paradise Garage show with 6 String Drag and Israel Nash last Saturday night. They are the latest in a series of shows that benefit Conner’s Heroes. Before diving into the music, it’s worth saying there’s a special place in live music heaven for the folks who come together to put on these shows. You can tell how much time and energy go into these events. Thank you Team Richmond and thank you Ed Trask for the wonderful poster.
The show opened with 6 String Drag, a Raleigh band who recorded their first album nearly 20 years ago and have regrouped recently and have a new album coming out in February. 6 String Drag did what every opening band should do – get the crowd going. And they delivered. With a mix of short, up-beat songs that were fun and quirky (in a good way). Check them out on Spotify and give them a listen yourself – at the show I remember thinking how I was reminded of Elvis Costello and Los Lobos. Their latest single Drive Around Town closed the set and I’ve gotta admit its been playing in my head ever since.
In the break I re-fueled with some Two Hearted tallboys (I love those things – thanks Matt!) and checked out the cool old gas signs hanging in the Garage (my Dad would go crazy). Shortly thereafter the main act took the stage. Someone I’d only discovered about 48 hours before the show but now someone I’m completely immersed in: Israel Nash
Per usual, I turned to Spotify to listen before the show. What I found was an hidden treasure. His latest album Rain Plans is a masterpiece that I’ve been playing constantly for the last week. At first listen it probably draws the closest comparison to Neil Young Harvest or Harvest Moon but after more listens you realize it’s completely distinct and original. And amazing. They are many instrumental and vocal layers blended together perfectly to create this lush wall of sound – all with a driving beat and Nash’s vocals sailing over the top. The album translates seamlessly from studio to live rock show, especially on songs like their opener Through the Door and first set closer Rain Plans. Do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes watching their YouTube live versions of these songs.
I won’t try and capture every detail of Israel’s show in this review. The setlist is below if you’re interested in the songs they played. All I will say is that you definitely need to check them out. Not only is the music wonderful but so is the band. Israel was a humble front-man who quickly connected with the wonderful vibe of the event in an authentically caring way. After the show I briefly chatted with pedal-steel guitarist Eric Swanson about their life in Texas these days. Eric lives in Denton and we shared some common Dan’s Silverleaf experiences, in fact they recently had Brent Best open for them. The last time I was at Dan’s was to see Brent and Slobberbone do their farewell shows nearly 10 years ago. Wow, how time flies.
So go check out Israel Nash when he comes to a town near you. You’ll be glad you did. And check out more live music this year to fill your soul and spirit. I know I will. Thanks to Mark, Paradise Garage and Team Richmond – I just took one
tiny big step forward.