High As A Kite
Marty Willson-Piper's Acres of Space, with HuDost and Christine Lenee
Blood:Water, Nashville, TN
Friday, May 13, 2016
So it's been two weeks since this show happened, and I'm still buzzing from it like it was last night. I don't think I've been this affected by a show since I saw The Pogues ten years ago. It was simply a phenomenal night of music. And like a lot of great nights, this one has a back story.
Marty Willson-Piper is one of my all time favorite guitarists. He spent 33 years as one of the twin guitar pillars of The Church, along with releasing nine solo albums, three more albums as Noctorum, and countless side projects and collaborations along the way. I spent hours upon hours listening to his first three solo albums in my college dorms and apartments, and his second album Art Attack is pretty much the reason I bought a 12 string acoustic guitar. So I was crushed when I got a Facebook message on Thursday from a friend that Marty had played the previous night at Music City Roots in Franklin, TN, a mere half hour drive from my house. I'd seen him half a dozen times with The Church over the years, but I'd never gotten the chance to catch one of his solo shows. And it looked liked I'd missed a prime opportunity to do so in my backyard. My disappointment was blessedly short lived however. About a half an hour later I got another message from the same friend, with a link that Marty would be playing the following night at Blood:Water here in Nashville.
Blood:Water is not a venue, it's the offices of the organization founded by members Jars of Clay to fight HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. It is however a beautiful space, and it made for an intimate venue for an amazing night of music. The musicians were set up in a semi-circle, and chairs and couches were arranged facing them, so that both the band and the audience were in a unbroken circle facing each other. The night served a a low key start up for their tour (Music City Roots had actually been the band's very first performance).
Christie Lenee started the night off with a solo set of folky pop songs highlighted by an impressive display of acoustic guitar tapping. After a brief break, HuDost took the stage. Over the years, I've discovered some of my favorite bands when they opened for someone else. HuDost has now joined that list. They describe themselves as "Neo Folk World Rock," and while that is certainly and accurate description, it would be more succinct to simply call them magical. They seamlessly blend world music, atmospheric guitar rock, and beautiful harmonies into a whole that is definitely more than the sum of its parts. And as if their own songs weren't amazing enough, they brought up the evening's host Dan Haseltine for a gorgeous duet on Jars Of Clay's "Inland."
After a brief break and a switch of bass players, HuDost became Acres of Space and backed up Willson-Piper for an incredible set that pulled from his solo albums, Noctorum songs, and even a trio of Church classics ("She'll Come Back For You Tomorrow," "Tristesse," and "Spark"). And as if it wasn't great enough hearing these songs live that were such a part of my musically formative years, the band really brought them to life. Harmonies that were only hinted at on the albums swam through the room and firmly embedded themselves in our ears. They managed to faithfully reproduce the arrangements and add new nuances at the same time. Marty told whimsical stories (ie bold faced lies) between songs. The fact that a band could sounds this amazing after only a couple of rehearsals and three shows was awe inspiring. It was simply an incredible evening, one that you didn't really want to come to an end.
The remaining tour dates for the Acres Of Space/HuDost shows are listed below. If they come anywhere near you, I'd highly recommend you make it out. Additional dates are currently in the works, so check out the tour's Facebook page for details.
June 8 - Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA
June 10 - Whitney Center for the Arts, Pittsfield, MA
June 12 - CoSM, Wappingers Falls, NY
June 21 - The Cutting Room, New York, NY
June 25 - ONCE, Somerville, MA
HuDost will also be returning to Nashville on their own for a show at Liberation Yoga on Friday, June 3.