Monday, June 30, 2003
ELIOT BRONSON at the Jammin Java on Friday June 27
With my eyes closed I ride in the car listening to Eliot's CD. As the his song "Tomorrow" plays I dreamily think how I blogged Eliot's words "this is a song about being here now, this is called "Tomorrow" But I come into present awareness that the car isn't moving. Could we be in stop and go traffic in Virginia already? I sit up to see where we are and it is the Maryland Beltway, not yet Virginia. As I sit up, David says "look" and there is Eliot in the lane to our right smiling and waving to us. I am instantly awake and excited and he is gone, his lane is moving.
David says he heard Lea will be there tonight accompanying Eliot. Great but I want to pass Eliot and wave again. Why are we in the left lane? David says Eliot's lane will slow up ahead and we should pass him again, but we don't. This is a first, I have never seen a performer on the road before!
At the Jammin Java, we see Eliot but no Lea. We say hi again and then he greets two other fans warmly and leaves. They turn out to be Laura and Barb, sort of late 20's young women, from NC near Duke. They are on their way to New York City and came here to see Eliot in Virginia on the way up to New York. I am so intrigued and I ask lots of questions. How did you meet Eliot. Well Laura has been going to house concerts for a while. She asked Barb to a concert with Christopher Williams, and Brian Joseph opened. So then Barb hosted a show for Brian Joseph, a "house" concert at a local YMCA. The YMCA? Well their friend is a caterer and he works from the YMCA, and he did some food for the concert. So, Brian Joseph called a week before and said "do you mind if I bring another musician with me, his name is Eliot Bronson." Eliot came and it was a fabulous night and they had lots of fun. Mary Sue Twohy http://www.marysuetwohy.com/ was there and also Melanie Hersch.
I ask, what more can they say? "You kind of find ones like Eliot that just stick". "And he's cute." They advise me, if you base your musical tastes on what you hear on the radio, you won't find people like Eliot Bronson and Christopher Williams. "We have the Six String Cafe" in Cary, NC http://www.sixstringcafe.com/top_nn4.html which is a great venue for singer-songers, a real listening room." Iam enchanted listening to these lovely young women.
Eliot's parents are here too. We see some other fans we know from other concerts. They tell us someone is taking pictures of Eliot tonight and I see a man with an impressive camera but fail to connect to find out is I can get copies.
Eliot is waiting outside for Lea. She arrives soon. Wow, she has some great shows of her own coming up. I would like to see her at the Ridge House Concerts on 7/18 but there are 3 other incredible music events that night so it will be a hard choice. Eliot and Lea tell us they are probably on after the break.
I have started talking about Eliot, and he is why we are here, so I am going to write up his set list first, even though he came second.
At the break, a birthday cake I had ordered for David is here, and David and I and our new friend Laura cut and deliver cake to all the cake eaters in the crowd.
ABOUT THE JAMMIN JAVA
The Jammin Java http://www.jamminjava.com/ is a local area treasure for music lovers. lt is a coffee shop in the front, and in the back a music hall which the web site describes as "Capacity is 180 per show. High-end sound, light system" Upstairs is a music school, and to the left is a recording studio. It is an incredible place. Local musicians and fans love it! It is owned by musicians who really care and bring in great talent.
As a fan there is there is one minor quibble for me. I crave a listening room, and this one is 98%. The sound system is great. We can hear Eliot very very well. However, when there are a great number of people congregating in the food area at the front, I can hear some voices from that area, even in the back. Some people may not even notice it. It does not drown out the sound system. But I want to do and say "hush" don't you know who is singing back here? With the split bill, I think some of the fans from the first set are part of the noise from the food area when Eliot opens. It isn't throughout Eliot's entire set. John Austin and Erin Echo, the performers in the fist set, do stay and listen to Eliot, and talk with Eliot and Lea afterwards.
Woolen Socks - Lea's harmonizing is great as usual.
Eliot suggests the crowd sing Happy Birthday to David - he notes that we have cake (and he doesn't. But he can have some after he performs).
Songs that I Can't Sing - solo. This is another song I never tire of hearing .
Lea harmonizes again on You Can't See Yourself in These Songs
Eliot says his new CD will be out this year, hopefully by August. The last song is one of the new ones and so is this new one. He sings with Lea "I'm not the man you think I am"
Eliot was from Baltimore (some here in Virginia may not know that).
He sings (solo) - Back in my old town
In his parents house, Eliot used to write songs in the bathroom - it has great acoustics. After his lease was up in Baltimore, he had a month before moving to Massachusetts where he is now, so he visited home for that month. He wrote this song there:
Everybody wants to know your name (with Lea)
Gone without warning the light of the day - you hear yourself calling yourself, from far away - this is so haunting..
Another Tourist - lively. I want to hear this again, and again.
This song is for Eliot's brother Sam, You are Old - like cathedral pines
There is a request for "Fences". Eliot says his songs have a way about turning from one topic into something else. But this song might have something to do with an ideas of the sacred - where is it, is it out there?
I don't know what to say about this song. This song talks about coming to know who I am, and where I fit in the scheme of things. Am I finding myself in this way now when I am many decades older than Eliot? How does Eliot know how to ask these questions? Maybe we cycle through and discover and rediscover such things at different levels. And as a 20 something I was so clueless about life. I am so in awe of this song and it's author.
Big Cookie Cutter - with Lea. Eliot's sing a long hit.
Guru - an almost true story. At first I thought this was shocking. Now it is fun. Is it a folk song? Well is it a true story? Anyway, your girlfriends may have another guru, but you are surely one of my guru's. Along with Vance Gilbert. To understand this, see my next post about seeing Vance on 6/29/03. Your incredible songs have opened so many things for me, and contributed to some little understanding of what you and Vance and others are saying, doing, being. Namaste.
FIRST SET - John Austin http://www.pastemusic.com/johnaustin and Erin Ehco Austin with DC music veteran Bill Campbell on guitar.
Earlier in the day I check out the PASTE record's web page on John Austin to see who is appearing with Eliot. Since I am so impressed with Pierce Pettis (another PASTE artist), any associations with this label peeks my interest. I read the story of how John Austin was beaten up by a Chicago street gang, has a long recovery from injury to his arm, and produces a new album. I compare the songs online (PASTE makes complete MP3's available for a a few selected songs per album.) - the old and the new. I am intrigued, especially by the new album songs.
A friendly woman behind me tells me that John's parents are here. She tells me that his parents are from Chantilly VA, where John grew up and lots of people know him still. He is married to Erin and Echo her real middle name, not just a stage name. They met in college in Pennsylvania. Erin sang at Lilith Faire. When introduced I think John tells us they now live in Georgia.
SET LIST (some guesses on song titles)
Only the Strong will Survive
When the Money is Good, I Don't Mind Workin
Busted at the Pearly Gates
What would you give for a moment of silence
If I Was a Latin King - This is after the attack by the gang the Latin Kings. John asked himself what if I were a Latin King. I don't experience this song as angry. My surprise if find this song haunting, with pain, and a wistful feeling. I would like to hear it again.
Fuzzy Dice - the name of another neighborhood character, and some reflection on types of luck
These Things Take Time
And for the Encore the crowd wants to hear Erin sing lead so she sings Moonlight
I am thinking John is very intense, and then Erin even mentions how intense he is. Some of the sound (with Bill Campbell's back up) is a little loud (for me). It becomes something I must get past to get into the music, and when I do it is OK (as in I love Bruce Springsteen, and Bruce Cockburn. I find some of these songs gripping. I am not familiar with the words. Some are, as I said, haunting and with great images, like If I Was A Latin King. What kind of social comment is in these songs? This artist I sense has a lot to say. I really like the way he says it in If I Were a Latin King and I need to hear more. His loyal fans in the crowd are so pleased with the show.