Travelers’ Rest Day 2 – The Decemberists Give Exquisite Full Performance of ‘The Crane Wife’

Jenny Conlee performs “The Crane Wife” with The Decemberists at Travelers’ Rest.

There’s something transformative about hearing a band perform an entire album live.

It’s a slightly different interpretation than what’s heard on a turntable, in the car or through a phone.

Some songs become livelier, longer and more emotive while others take on a new identity for fans.

That’s what hit me Sunday night at Travelers’ Rest.

I started photographing The Decemberists when the opening chords of “The Crane Wife 3” rang out from the stage in front of me.

While I tried to concentrate on my shots, I heard the crowd roar with contagious excitement and turned around the see a long line of fans jumping up and down at the barricade at Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, Mont. In that moment, I connected with their energy and enthusiasm.

That energy and enthusiasm stemmed from the Portland, Ore., indie rock band’s special performance of their 2006 concept album, “The Crane Wife.”

A special musical treat for those of us who love The Decemberists and cherish the opportunity to hear an entire album front to back LIVE.

In “The Crane Wife,” the album’s storyline focuses on an old Japanese folktale of a poor man who finds an injured crane on his doorstep and nurses it back to health. Once the crane is released, a woman appears on the man’s doorstep, and he instantly falls for her. They quickly marry.

The woman offers to weave beautiful clothes out of silk to help earn money for the couple. At first, the man agrees to never watch his wife make clothes, but forces her weave more as their income grows and becomes oblivious to her declining health.

With a growing income, the man’s greed increases, and one fateful day, he catches a glimpse of her weaving and discovers his wife is an actual crane plucking feathers from her own body and weaving them into the loom. She sees him, flies away and never returns.

“This is only the second time we’ve done one of these full albums through other than ‘Hazards of Love,’ or ‘The Tain,’” said Colin Meloy, frontman for The Decemberists. “I never know whether just to not talk through it just to give you the full album experience or just to ruin the whole experience would be chattering in between, so I’m obviously doing both and neither.”

Continue reading “Travelers’ Rest Day 2 – The Decemberists Give Exquisite Full Performance of ‘The Crane Wife’”

Advertisements

The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie Deliver Memorable Travelers’ Rest Day 1

Colin Meloy plays with The Decemberists during the first night of Travelers’ Rest.

Travelers’ Rest may be the best festival for any indie music rock fan – period.

First off, it’s an artist-curated event with The Decemberists at the helm. Who knows how to select a festival lineup better than the artists themselves? No one, I say.

Next, it’s the perfect overall length and amount of music. With two days and start and end times of 3:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. each day, respectively, you get to see nine acts and not have to stay up all night. At times, the three- and four-day festivals are fun, but a bit long in the tooth on hot summer days.

As a bonus, you also get to see ALL the acts if you want. No overlapping artists and schedule conflicts. A music festival goer’s dream!

Thirdly, the festival location and size. Missoula, Mont., is idyllic with its big blue sky and majestic mountains in the distance, yet remote enough to not draw overwhelming crowds compared to festivals in large cities, such as Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles and Detroit. The Big Sky Brewing Company Amphitheater has the right-size feel for an outdoor venue that holds up to 5,000 people.

Finally, who wouldn’t want to spend two musically, fun-filled days with The Decemberists and their friends? For me, it’s a bounty of exquisite musicianship and artistry.

Continue reading “The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie Deliver Memorable Travelers’ Rest Day 1”

Travelers’ Rest — The Decemberists Host 2-Day Music Festival in Missoula, Mont.

Colin Meloy performs with The Decemberists during the “Your Girl/Your Ghost” tour at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium in May. My friend Rachel provides cowbell support.

Nine years ago, I put in a copy of “The Hazards of Love” by The Decemberists in my Volkswagen Beetle’s five-disc CD changer and raised an eyebrow.

It wasn’t quite what I expected.

After listening to the entire album, I looked over at Brian and shook my head.

He replied to me, “This isn’t our style.”

At that time, we weren’t focused on rock operas and concept albums. We were the curmudgeons of pop, classic rock and power metal.

The Decemberists’ 2009 rock opera album pushed us out of our comfort zones musically, courtesy of my brother Steve. He included the album in a care package of music to hear before attending Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

The album’s storyline centers on a woman named Margaret who falls in love with a forest dweller named William. Throughout the album, William’s mother and a villain named the Rake bring conflict to the story.

Back then, “Hazards” was one of the first concept albums I had ever heard. While I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I sure do today.

I greatly appreciate the album and The Decemberists because they’re part of a special group of artists and music that inspired my initial love of concertgoing, vinyl and CD collecting, musical festival-ing (I know, it’s not a real word) and blogging.

Continue reading “Travelers’ Rest — The Decemberists Host 2-Day Music Festival in Missoula, Mont.”

Homecoming — The National Hosts Inaugural 2-day Music Festival in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — Indie rock giants The National returned to their stomping grounds to host the inaugural two-day Homecoming music festival this weekend at Smale Park with Feist, Big Thief, Father John Misty as well as other emerging rock and alternative artists.

Along with Wilco, Bon Iver and The Decemberists, The National is part of a growing wave of indie rock artists who are curating their own music festivals for fans. It’s a way to provide music lovers with a more intimate experience in comparison to the larger likes of Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.

Homecoming truly felt like The National had returned to their roots with two special performances each night. Saturday’s set featured selections from “Sleep Well Beast,” “Trouble Will Find Me,” “High Violet” and “Alligator.” Sunday’s set featured 2007’s “Boxer” in its entirety and the debut of the band’s newest song, “Light Years.”

Bryce and Aaron Dessner also treated fans to a special performance at the Cincinnati Masonic Center Friday night to demonstrate their guitar prowess as part of Red Bird Hollow and celebrate the release of German electronic duo Mouse on Mars’ latest album, “Dimensional People.”

Lisa Hannigan, Spank Rock, Sam Amidon and Kristin Anna joined the Dessner twins and Mouse on Mars to kick off the first night of the festival.

Fans also enjoyed riveting performances by Lord Huron, Julien Baker, Future Islands, Moses Sumney, Alvvays and other talented artists.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Spotlights Growing Motor City Music, Art Scene

Rahbi Hammond, aka Rah the Son, pumps up the crowd at Detroit LIVE.

A blend of Motor City sunshine, art and music formed a new creative and collaborative vibe during the inaugural Detroit LIVE at the Heidelberg.

That vibe pulsated throughout Heidelberg Street as more than 2,000 attendees enjoyed family, friends, festivities, food and fun at the free Aug. 26 block party near the city’s iconic art installation.

“This Detroit LIVE event at the Heidelberg is a collaboration,” said Jenenne Whitfield, CEO for The Heidelberg Project. “It’s a celebration of all the cultures in the city of Detroit and of all the grassroots initiatives. I want a party in the middle of the street. I want to show Detroit how it’s really done.”

Donna Kassab, POWER Entertainment owner and Detroit LIVE creator, joined Whitfield to reflect on the event’s strong creative community.

“Everyone’s here to celebrate each other as well as music and art,” she said. “Let’s have some fun.”

Nine artists continued to spread that vibe musically as they showcased Detroit’s best hip-hop, techno, R&B, classical and indie rock before curious and engaged attendees.

Continue reading “First Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Spotlights Growing Motor City Music, Art Scene”

Saturday’s Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Celebrates Motor City Music

For three Detroit-based artists, the Motor City brings a promising musical future backed by a powerful legacy.

Clear Soul Forces, John Jammin Collins and Rah the Son will represent some of the city’s best musical talent and lead the inaugural Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Project Saturday.

Together, they’ll showcase emerging and established hip-hop, techno and other music during the free block party hosted by POWER Entertainment and The Heidelberg Project.

From noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at 3600 Heidelberg St. in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt community, attendees will hear seven other rising musical acts as part of the Detroit LIVE. There also will be an open mic session for other performers interested in demonstrating their talents.

“We want to build a sense of community while featuring Detroit talent and celebrating The Heidelberg Project’s 30th anniversary,” said Donna Kassab, a POWER Entertainment owner and Detroit LIVE creator.

Kassab is hosting the event in conjunction with Jenenne Whitfield, CEO of The Heidelberg Project, near the city’s iconic outdoor art installation. Detroit LIVE is part of Thirty Months of Heidelberg, a series of special programming in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of The Heidelberg Project.

The Stratton Setlist recently spoke with Clear Soul Forces, John Jammin Collins and Rah the Son to learn more about their music and upcoming performances at Detroit LIVE.

Continue reading “Saturday’s Detroit LIVE at The Heidelberg Celebrates Motor City Music”

Detroit LIVE to Showcase Local Music, Art at The Heidelberg Project on Aug. 26

A new block party will spotlight established and emerging local music at The Heidelberg Project in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt community on Aug 26.

The inaugural Detroit LIVE will feature performances by hip-hop artist Clear Soul Forces; DJ, producer and historian John Collins (Underground Resistance); rapper, DJ and visual artist Sheefy McFly; hip-hop artist Rah the Son and six other local acts.

Sound will be provided by the Audio Rescue Team. Detroit LIVE also will feature open mic sessions for other interested artists to showcase their talent.

Donna Kassab, POWER Entertainment owner and Detroit LIVE creator, has joined forces with Jenenne Whitfield, CEO of The Heidelberg Project, to host the free event near the city’s iconic outdoor art installation from noon to 8 p.m. at 3600 Heidelberg Street.

“The Heidelberg Project is one of the most visited cultural destinations in Detroit, so we wanted to bring a lot of people together around art to build a sense of community,” Kassab said. “Detroit LIVE is all about the spirit of collaboration through arts and entertainment.”

Continue reading “Detroit LIVE to Showcase Local Music, Art at The Heidelberg Project on Aug. 26”