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Art of the Song, ABQ

Sunday 05.15.2016

Art of the Song

Slept in a little on Sunday morning, then took a nice walk along one of the acequias in South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico (took some photos that Laura would use as model to paint).

It was nice to relax all morning and afternoon after three days of driving to somewhere. The Albuquerque wind and terrain reminded Laura and I of Lancaster, California, where we spent most of our lives before moving to Santa Barbara, CA 7 years ago. A thousand miles of desert in between, but feels very similar.

One difference though (among many others) is the Albuquerque institution “Art of the Song,” an NPR radio show, where Laura and I went to be among the audience for a taping on Sunday night. A special Albuquerque local edition was scheduled featuring Meredith Wilder, Gabriel Louise (ok, she’s from Boulder, Colorado, but she organized the event), Justin Evan Thompson, Cali Shaw, and Alex Maryol. The show was held in an intimate venue, seating perhaps 50. The format was one of my favorites: songwriters in the round. The first half of the show was two rounds, each songwriter presenting a song of their own in each round. The second half contained a unique twist. Each writer had been given, at random, two songs to sing, each by one of the other songwriters on the bill.

First of all, these five were all great songwriters. Albuquerque has something going on strong right now. I was blown away by the quality of the songwriting and performing and the strength of each individual writer’s artistic voice. Having the writers perform covers of each other’s work created a special atmosphere, with the singers paying tribute to each other’s artistry. You could feel the appreciation and respect that each of these artists had for each other’s work. The highlight was seeing the expressions of the songwriters as someone else interpreted their songs. Emotions were high (in very positive ways). My interpretation of this event and the format was that it instantly deepened the support and sense of community among these songwriters. I was glad I was able to witness this show and the positivity that it generated (oh yeah—hearing great songs and singers made me glad too).

During intermission and following the show we were able to congratulate the performers for great work and a great show (thanks to Kristina Jacobsen for aiding in introductions and making sure these folks knew I was a fellow songwriter). We picked up some of their CDs, which will definitely be in rotation on the player for long drive back to California on Sunday. I was surprised and honored that a couple of the artists even promise to come hear me on Tuesday at the showcase at Winning Coffee Company.

Laura and I head home (Kristina’s place is feeling like home already), tired and inspired from the Art of the Song, Albuquerque.

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