I've attended countless music performances in various forms (as the vast number of
review pages linked to this and other pages on this site will testify), a
"songwriters' round" was a new experience for me. And, indeed it
proved a very interesting one. Featuring the work of three singer/songwriters
who took turns sharing their original material, the evening included an eclectic
mix of songs by John Fotiadis, such as one told from the perspective of a person
with little time left to live and another about a retired intelligence
operative. And, it showcased arguably two of the finest examples of comedic
songwriting ever penned, those being Mike Pek's "Bloomfield Municipal
Court" (which tells the story of a day in search of justice that concludes
instead "watching my car get towed, from the window...of the men's
room...of the Bloomfield Municipal Court") and "The Ballad of
Davy", which offers a side-splittingly imaginative tale of watching a high
school friend "wrestle his mom". Long story. And indeed a
truly hysterical one...albeit one that to make sense of, I suspect you had to be
Brian's first contribution to the event was "Stuck In Boston", a selection from an album due out this fall -- one that offers a moving portrait of lovers separated by the less than glamorous life of a musician on the road...
"Tonight I'm stuck
And you're somewhere
All I want is to be
I can't get you off
And, before launching into his next song, Brian explained that he'd just completed participation in a documentary about the challenges facing artists who had once been signed, then become unsigned, and their subsequent attempts to forge careers through their own efforts. "It's kind of like the opposite of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", he quipped, continuing with his own suggested title for the piece, What It's Like to be a Failure. Of course, personally, I'd say that all depends on how one interprets the word "success"...
Given that introduction, it seems appropriate Brian proceeded with "The Tearing Down", a selection from his 2002 album, State of Grace...a composition, contrary to its title, in fact aimed at building up. More specifically, written for one friend, it was on this occasion "played [live for the first time ever] for another"...who was, of course, most appreciative of this honor...
"While seeking solace
in the thunder,
After this, Brian took the audience "Across the Water" to another brand new song, a tale about a girl who "was sexually abused as a child" and as a result, found it difficult to "give herself to another man"...
"She carved his name
A glint of a smile
Next came one of those "somewhere in between" songs I referenced in this page's preface. By that I mean, while "Madonna In Rags" is another title featured on the aforementioned new album, it's one I've had the privilege of hearing live before...and which I was therefore thrilled to hear live once again!
rags at the edge
cold morning light,
half of her bus fare,
After this the audience was favored with yet another brand new song -- well, almost. Actually, while he explained that "Mr. Brown Wherever You Are" was written about a friend who was murdered, and that this was his first attempt at performing it live, after only a few notes Brian reconsidered adding this emotionally difficult song to the already rather dark material that had thus far been included in the setlist...
"Oh, it's true...
Don't you know I knew her, too?
She always spoke so well
...and used his turn for this round instead to offer "Incidental", a song inspired by his father...
"Well, I guess
Seen some things and
Unfortunately, the next song shared was to be his finale for the evening, and before it Brian requested -- and himself participated in -- a well-deserved round of applause for Kirk and Garth, who so competently run the amazing Luna Stage...
And, arguably saving the best for last, Brian then began a song he once said was the result of an evening watching the Fox News Channel and reading the Bible. In response to that I can only say that given the quality of the insightful "Far From Thee", clearly in this case these proved for him an extremely fruitful combination...
"Oh, Lord, don't let me falter...
Oh, Lord, let me not be deceived...
Oh, Lord, in the darkness of my night,
Don't let me stray too far from Thee."
To conclude then, as the saying goes, "good things come in small packages"...or, in this case, one very short set! For while this show may have ended much sooner than others by this artist I've encountered, still it provided the usual hugely satisfying experience. And so I'm brought at last to the only words left to be said on such occasions...
Thanks much, Brian,
And, of course...
See you next time!