Acoustics of a social experiment
By Jim Phillips
We're a community here. It may not seem like that to some. But it's real. We live here. In the middle of nowhere, we live here, with each other.
The Super Awesome Acoustic Show at Low Spirits (2823 Second NW) is a series of themed performances that offers an unusual opportunity for musicians and fans to see their favorite performers in a new and potentially uncomfortable position. Much of the crowd tends to be musicians, and it's a great chance to rekindle friendships, rub elbows, mend fences and for fans to get more than just a glance at their favorite musicians.
I met with the gentleman who concocted this idea, Harry Redus-Brown, over a number of drinks at a local bar. We had quite the discussion. As interesting as it was—and it was—what was even more fascinating was the number of local musicians showing up at our table, coming and going. It was cool to sit back and watch how close-knit we all were, despite some of us barely knowing one another. Five separate conversations clanged away at once.
This fits the theme of this show and community perfectly. Performers each get 10 minutes to play a set of songs they believe should have been huge. “I would love for them to even play their own songs that they felt should have been huge,” says Redus-Brown. “There are no real rules. It's essentially a club meeting of the music scene. And everyone is welcome to join.” Case in point: A local musician showed up at our table during the interview asking if she could join in on the show. His response? “Sure. Rock and roll.”
Our conversation dodged from songwriting to drugs to lawyers and so on and so forth. It was a meeting of people that can be smart or crude or creative. These are persons capable of stupid things and of changing everything. They're believers. And they're not. This show includes a litany of local talent, including members of Leeches of Lore, the 5 Star Motelles, Icelandic, Unit 7 Drain, The Glass Menageries and many other local bands.
One musician stood out to me during our boozy meeting: Lauren Anderson. She was so intriguing that I had to talk to her separately. She's a quiet—okay, neither of us is actually quiet—and vastly intelligent person and an amazingly talented singer and songwriter. At her home one afternoon, we spoke mostly about books—mostly about everything.
When she sat at that piano and began to sing, the air in the room just froze. She knows when to sing and when not to sing. She knows every corner of a song. I liked one song so much that she wrote the lyrics in my notebook. I damn near cried. Her kind of talent comes with a price. Sometimes, she pays it. This is Anderson’s first performance in some time. As I mentioned earlier, there is an element of the uncomfortable in the shows that Redus-Brown creates. But those lights will hit Anderson, and you too will feel the air in the room go still.
Anderson and I set off for lunch with her 3-year-old niece in tow. After lunch, the kiddo wanted a lollipop and a park. The image of me pushing a stroller around downtown is pretty damn amusing to anyone that knows me. We walked a couple miles for the lollipop, talking about music. We talked about crazy people and not-so-crazy people, and how the latter must be sad. She spoke about how easy it is to be misunderstood when you do your own thing. We discussed how it's really just up to you if you just let it be. Her work is not what you would call mainstream, but it's also something it doesn’t take long to understand. I appreciate that. Just talking on the street, stroller in hand, her spirit crawled up my spine and into my brain and rested there.
She mostly told me to watch my language in front of the young’un several times. The kid fell asleep in the stroller, so we never made it to the park. But it was a pleasant opportunity to get around the corners of Anderson’s perspective on music and life. And there are a lot of corners there.
But, then, none of these performers are to be passed over. And 10 minutes goes by real fast. With this type of group—this gathering of talent—you just never know what will happen.
Super Awesome Acoustic Show
with Lauren Anderson and members of Leeches of Lore, Phantom Lake, Manhole, Shoulder Voices and more
Friday, Jan. 25, 9 p.m.
2823 Second Street NW
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