Last night was the "Songs for a Friend" acoustic show with Josh Ritter and a couple of his bandmates - bassist Zack Hickman and keyboardist Sam Kassirer. It took place at the intimate (read "tiny") Club Passim in Cambridge. The last time I saw JR in concert, the temperature hit record highs, I had to swim like a desperate salmon against the brackish tide of Sox fans, and Park Street station caught fire... this time, the only thing that got in the way was a bit of cold rain. Emily (One Eye/Un Occhio), was totally my hot date and seemed to really enjoy herself. Now, it wasn't the raucous, foot-stomping Somerville show, but it was a lot of fun nevertheless. A lovely night and all for a good cause, as well. Both shows (I went to the 7 o'clock, there was also a 10 o'clock), were recorded and will be combined most likely into one disc of amazing joyfulness and released sometime... soon? I forgot about signing up for the pre-order, since I was so fixated on getting a poster. Oh swizzle sticks.
The show was simple and casual - you got the feeling that most people there knew the band in some way or another. That dang JR has got to have one of the most contagious smiles I've ever seen - combine that and the music and I regularly caught myself grinning like a creature without a central nervous system.
A few of the evening's highlights...
- JR stopped in the middle of "Girl in the War" to tell Zack to get on stage and sing. Zack then sang, charmingly/slightly out-of-tune, a song about his very best friend: his mustache. My favorite line (I'm probably paraphrasing here): people never ask me to babysit... Fan-freaking-tastic.
- The rendition of "Good Man." It was never really one of my favorite tunes of JR's, but performed live, it's more immediate, more striking and bare - especially My hands held on, my mind let go/ And back to you my heart went skipping... Even if you do possess an elaborate central nervous system (unlike myself apparently), you've got to find yourself smiling at that.
- Being a phenomenal songwriter himself, I found myself wondering why JR should bother covering other artists' songs - but he did a sweet Dylan cover and a really, really amazing cover of a tune by... someone whose name escapes me. Well, it'll be on the CD whenever they release that, so... I'll know one day.
- When Kate (the young woman for whom the benefit was held) got up to thank everyone, she gave a very brief speech and started to cry. Then I started to cry. Then everyone clapped. It was nice.
After the show, I ended up missing the earlier train back to Provtown, but it allowed me to go back to the venue and grab a very cool poster print (I'll try to post a pic of it later.) And luckily for me, Em hadn't yet caught her bus, so I had some pleasant company while wandering around Cambridge late on a Tuesday evening.
(About the pics... 1: can you tell I need a new digital camera? And 2: I have nothing against keyboardist Sam. I'm sure he's a cool dude. But there was most definitely a pole in the way of a good shot.)
Fast forward to the train ride home - I did the post-concert dorky fan thing and listened to my JR collection on my iPod. "Best for the Best" came up - a song he didn't even perform at the show - but I was apparently a little emotional yesterday because I started to well up with tears. It's a comforting song - one for tired souls. And I guess I'm just feeling a little tired these days.
She made me a shirt out of fives and dimes
Now she's gone but when I wear it she crosses my mind
And if the best is for the best, then the best is unkind