Music


Joy and I went to see an Anuna concert a few weeks ago. They are a Celtic group that I had never heard of until they were one of the events in our season subscription. As it turned out, they were really good. The group is made up of about 15 singers, pretty evenly split between men and women, and four instrumentalists (guitar, harp, violin, and percussion). They don’t perform only traditional Celtic music, but also medieval and sacred works in various languages. I’ve always wondered how this kind of music would be performed live, and apparently this is how you do it (and do it well).

Some of the pieces were stunningly beautiful. “Marble Halls”, “Pie Jesu”, and “Greensleeves” were particularly good, but the highlight was “Jerusalem”. For “Jerusalem”, five female vocalists came down from the stage and positioned themselves around the lower floor of the theater, spread throughout the audience. Then they sang in what can best be described as a kind of round, while walking slowly around the theater aisles (not in a circle or anything, just kind of randomly). The unamplified voices swirled and soared, completely surrounding you with voices from every direction. I think that was possibly the most ethereal, beautiful music I have ever heard performed live. Really, it was truly amazing. If you ever have the chance, Anuna is a concert you don’t want to miss.

A few weeks ago Joy and I went to see Nickel Creek with some friends of ours. It was such a nice treat to go out to dinner and a concert with good friends. As always, the concert was great. They ran through all of their popular songs from all three albums, but I think they did fewer cover songs than last time they were here. They ended the first half with “The Fox”, which made me wonder what in the world they were going to do for a big number at the end of the concert. It turns out they were saving their cover of “Toxic” for the end, which they have now perfected in its craziness (lots of Chris dancing this time, which we didn’t see before). All in all a great show, and it makes me look forward all the more to Sara’s first solo album when it comes out next year. Oh, and I’ve been blogging long enough now that I can also refer you to my post from the last time Nickel Creek came through town.

Joy and I recently saw the Ten Tenors as part of a Broadway series we’re attending here in town in an effort to set aside time for us to get out together without the kids every now and then. I didn’t enjoy the concert as much as the Wynton Marsalis concert we saw a few weeks earlier, but parts of it were quite good. The somewhat heavily stylized opera bits were nice enough, and their covers of various well-known rock songs were certainly entertaining. The covers included Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees), The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel), Who Wants To Live Forever (Queen), and Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen again). As you might expect, Bohemian Rhapsody was the crowd pleasing favorite of the night. In between the opera and the covers, though, they performed a number of songs that were basically overwrought adult contemporary numbers, none of which were particularly engaging or interesting. So all in all certainly not the greatest concert in the world, but still a nice evening for Joy and I to spend together.

A few weeks ago Joy and I had the chance to see Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra here in town. I know Marsalis can be a bit contoversial because of his opinions and agenda, but all that aside, the show was great. I always enjoy the chance to see excellent musicians. There’s something about the mastery they display that’s really engaging. After an eclectic first half, the second half of the concert was dominated by a series of pieces from Ted Nash’s “Portrait in Seven Shades” series, including Monet, Dali, Matisse, and Picasso. Their encore was a seriously swinging number that was perhaps the highlight of the concert for me. Marsalis’s casual and humerous commentary between pieces was a surprise, as I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak before. He seems like he would be a fascinating person to sit down with and just chat for a few hours.

One of the nice things about my new job (can I still call it new even though I’ve been there a year?) is that I don’t get a lot of phone calls or interruptions, and as a result, I can listen to a lot of music. I can listen to so much music in fact, that I’ve been slowly but surely listening through every album that I own, and I just finished on Monday. That’s a bit more than 12,000 songs totaling well over 800 hours of music. It’s been nice getting to listen to things that I don’t normally hear, and now I’m having fun loading everything up into a playlist and just leaving media player on random. You never know what song will come up next!

As you may have guessed from several posts I’ve written before, Alison Krauss and Union Station are probably my favorite musicians of all time. But I had never seen them in concert until last week, and man, was it ever worth the wait. They were fabulous. Their latest tour was going to pretty much every city all around us, but not here, but Joy was extremely nice to me and let us head up to Lexington, Kentucky last Tuesday, where I had managed to get 9th row seats for the concert (by clicking my trusty web browser “refresh” button like a madman when the tickets went on sale at Ticketmaster several months ago).

They started off with “Every Time You Say Goodbye”, which is my favorite older song of theirs, and finished with “A Living Prayer”, a beautiful song from their most recent studio album. Between those two they nailed one great song after another. “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn”, “Faraway Land”, “Forget About It”, “Ghost In This House”, “Goodbye Is All We Have”, “I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow”, “Let Me Touch You For Awhile”, “The Lucky One”, “Oh, Atlanta”, “Restless”, “When You Say Nothing At All”, and many more. For finally getting to see them after all these years, their concert certainly didn’t let me down. I would have loved to have heard, “Crazy As Me”, “Gravity”, and “New Favorite”, but they have so many good songs, I can understand why they can’t get to everything in one concert.

Last week Joy and I went to see Chris Thile and How To Grow A Band at a theater downtown. It was our last real evening out before the new baby arrives, and it was really nice to have that time with each other. We went to dinner before the concert and then headed downtown. We had seats in the fifth row, and it was really fun to be that close. The band was awesome. They sounded great and played pretty much every song off of their album, plus several selections from Chris’s previous albums, and a couple of other songs to highlight the other members of the band. In addition to being an amazing mandolin player, Chris Thile is also a great entertainer. He had a lot of funny things to say between songs, and he just really looks like he’s having the time of his life on stage. It’s amazing to see such accomplished musicians. They’re playing incredibly difficult stuff, but they make it look so easy. I’d highly recommend catching these guys if they do a show near you.

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