Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wilder Than Her (Fred Eaglesmith)

I had the great pleasure of seeing Fred Eaglesmith and his band in a very small coffeehouse this past Monday night... and posted the following review to our local folk list - if Fred and company come anywhere near your town... I strongly urge you to go, go, go!

P.S. I spoke with Kori, Fred's drummer, at the break and requested this song - she kindly passed it on, and he played it mid-way through the second set... :-)


I was first introduced to the music of Fred Eaglesmith way back in 1997, when Dar Williams released an EP which included her cover of Wilder Than Her - I always loved that she felt comfortable enough not to change the gender. Seven years later, Todd Snider covered Alcohol and Pills - when two of my faves spotlight another artist's music in their catalog, you can bet I'm going to pay attention!

I was lucky enough to see Fred and band twice at the amazing Main Street Cafe, before it closed - last night I had a chance to reprise the experience at the Luna Star Cafe. The four-piece group might have been a bit "close" on stage... and their trademark merch table (limited edition vinyl, Fredhead coffee, earrings made out of Fred's old guitar strings... not to mention cowboy hats, CDs and DVDs) might have had to shrink a bit to fit on the piano in the corner... but the lyrics were larger-than-life, the musicianship was overflowing and the sense of privilege at experiencing this legendary group in such an intimate setting was huge...

What Fred and band (Matt Simpson on guitar, banjo and vocals; Kori Heppner on drums; Luke Stackhouse on upright bass and vocals) offer up onstage in their repertoire is exceptional (words front-and-center, exquisite harmonies and tight accompaniment, whether rocking or mellow, bluegrass or bossa nova) - what is unexpected but equally charming is Fred's over-the-top personality. David Engels posted yesterday that Fred will make you laugh - what he also does is make you think. He "afflicted the comfortable", with rant topics ranging from socialized medicine to stashed money in Panamanian bank accounts to corporate bailouts - he regaled us with humorous stories of sex, reincarnation*** and his new brainchild: joke-eoke... :-)

Part poet, part stand-up comic, all Buddhist Canadian cowboy (a koan artist?), Fred and company used the power of language and music last evening to full advantage - thanks to Alexis and Bree and all involved at the Luna Star for opening the Cafe on a normally-closed Monday night to showcase such stellar entertainment... in addition to her delicious food and extensive beer menu!

***My new favorite joke, from memory (ack!):

Once there were two nuns who promised each other that whoever died first would come back to tell the other what heaven was like. One nun died and, about six weeks later, the second nun heard the voice of her friend, and asked about her experience.

“Well, first I get up in the morning and have some vegetarian greens, then I make love, then I eat greens again, then in the afternoon I make love some more. Then I have another meal of natural greens, and make love again in the evening before I go to sleep.”

The second nun was quite surprised at this and asked, “So that is what it's like in heaven?”

The first nun replied, “Who said anything about heaven? I’m a rabbit in Saskatchewan.”

SONG: Wilder Than Her by Fred Eaglesmith

BOOK: Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery by Mark Coleman (introduction by Jack Kornfield)

POEM: The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

QUOTE: "First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others." ~ Thomas A Kempis

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