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My last day in the South was well spent. First, I visited Cherry Street in Helena, AR-before traveling through Mississippi to the city of Clarksdale to watch a night of blues performances at Ground Zero Blues Club!
I had an amazing time being surrounded by such tremendous beauty and talent- can’t wait until next year!
Saturday May 11, 2013 was a party from sunrise to sunset! First stop was Hard Rock Cafe, Memphis where I witnessed such tremendous talent congregate on one stage. King Fish, a newcomer to the blues scene, stunned the audience with his guitar playing and vocals that one would never expect from a 14 yr old.
By nightfall, Beale Street was alive with the spirit of the blues-check out the amazing video footage of the performances @ the Rum Boogie Cafe!
Stay tuned! Up next tomorrow is photo/video of our trip to Helena, Arkansas and show highlights from Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Most of the audience was comprised of hipsters standing around trying to out-cool each other. I’m talking girls wearing red lipstick, lace, bows or something with a high waist (be it a skirt or shorts) and their handsome, dapper, fuzzy-faced boyfriends were standing next to them sipping off-brand IPAs from a can while making banal commentary, “You know that’s what the sound guy does…you know? You know? Yeah.” Many were just too vogue to bother changing their facial expression and chose to remain stony and inscrutable (after all it is just a sold out concert, no reason to look like you’re having fun.)
Despite the collective of disgruntled artistes, The Crescent Ballroom was extremely inviting and cozy; it felt like I was walking into a private party that I happened upon by chance. The dim orange lighting of the interior flanks cast a soft glow that bounced off of the wine bottles near the bar and the patrons eating dinner in the Conchina, seemed relaxed and focused on their conversation. I had acquired a wristband, and made my way into the main room where a drum set was glowing beneath green lights-I positioned myself in a pretty good spot (being 5’10” is very helpful at concerts, I tell ya).
The waiting period was not too extensive before the lights were lowered and the opening act, the Tucson-born psychedelic pedal-steel band, Liila (pronounced lee-lah) addressed the crowd. I was enthralled by the rolling, brassy, audacious chords that were mellowed by the sweet and ethereal vocals of the lead singer. The talented front-woman (whose name was not announced), was clearly transfixed by the music as she segued through each song with patience and precision that was marked by the occasional hair toss. The steely, country-infused indie rock was absolutely pleasing to the ear, and with such tremendous talent, I predict Liila will only be regarded as ‘newcomers’ to the scene for a short while. After 30 minutes, the band thanked the audience and got everyone hyped up for Beach House who was up next.
Within nine years, Beach House has gained an astonishing following of indie fans who relish the duos’ dulcet, other-worldly melodies that have been described as “dream pop”- words used to explain the scope of soft, echoing, harmonious soundscapes that are complimented by lyrics that are both beautiful and ambiguous. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally form a perfect team, who has combined their talents to create a distinctive and enchanting image. Beginning in 2004, with their self-titled debut album, the band achieved much success from the start, and hit a peak with the release of their most popular album Teen Dream in 2010. Since then, their fan base and notoriety has only increased-and it was time for me to see them in action!
Graciously, the lights dimmed and the opening chords bellowed through the room right on schedule. Legrand was silhouetted by ambient grey light as the image of her lithe and tall figure came into focus; her shoulders were pronounced in a blazer with shoulder pads, which made her look like a sleek and streamlined solider-and her signature curls fell in wild, wavy plumes around her face and cascaded down her back. Her counterpart, Alex Scally sat at an elaborate drum set and he resembled Robert Smith of The Cure with a tuft of curly hair that spiraled out from the scalp. The set was modern and elegant-the lights behind it transformed in a kaleidoscope of reds, blues, purples and yellows-and moved according to the beat at certain points in the performance and occasionally exploded into white and bright orange for added effect.
Beach House went through an itinerary of their hits including “Norway”, “Walk in the Park”, “Zebra”, “Take Care”, and “10 Mile Stereo” from the record Teen Dream (2010). They also covered many songs from their latest album, Bloom (2012), such as “Wild” and “The Hours”. Victoria Legrand is known for her extremely distinct vocals which are partially sweet, but almost entirely low and husky; the orotund, earthy tone wrapped itself around each word as she sung with such a pure quality that one could mistake the perfection for lip synching. But that was not the case, the live rendition of each familiar tune was nearly heart stopping, and it made it clear why this band is a figure that has garnered almost obsessive fanfare and devotion.
The duo has a great way of returning the love and appreciation- Legrand often interacted with the audience by asking questions, giving out compliments, and providing words of advice, “You have your whole life to get wasted, seriously… you guys didn’t know you were walking into a D.A.R.E. meeting, but you’re in a D.A.R.E. meeting,” she joked. At one point in the show, I flashed a peace sign in her direction, to have it returned much to my surprise and elation.
After the encore, the hour long set came to a close-plumes of smoke billowed from the stage as the lights slowly came back on. The musicians exited to the left, and their silhouetted, obscured figures were blanketed in fog which made you wonder if it all had been a dream.
Here is my full interview on the Charlie Bolts Show from Saturday, March 23rd! I discuss photography, education and of course: MUSIC!