Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Best Part of Kiernan McMullan

You have an opportunity to hear Kiernan McMullan play his music this Saturday, 7pm at the Czar Bar on Grand in Kansas City, Missouri. If you’re busy that night, take a few minutes to listen to his music. After two years on the road in America by way of Ireland, Kiernan has made the Kansas City area his base. If we’re lucky he’ll make this his home. But at 23, he has a few miles to cover before settling.

I heard Kiernan play a 45 minute set at the recordBar on July 3rd. He opened for Scott Hrabko. Together, they made for a magical evening. Turns out this was McMullan’s debut appearance in Kansas City. This singer, who sings his songs and plays his acoustic guitar with dynamic subtlety, will soon be enthralling more audiences around town, I reckon. His songs present authentic images and stories informed by travel and people. This artist presently thrives upon the life of the road.

Saturday marks a second stop on his tour over the coming month with Nicole Berke. Stop number one is Nashville on Friday. Nicole sings and plays keyboards. She and Kiernan met at his first American gig back in November 2008 at the Lizard Lounge in Boston. After graduation this year, Nicole settled in Portland Oregon or like Kiernan, perhaps a better word is base, as she desires to travel and perform. And she will.

On this very warm Wednesday afternoon, the three of us settled into a quiet table in the Westport Coffee House to talk about their music. After all, it’s their passion and you’re reading this because you enjoy music. Kiernan journals a lot and writes poetry. From these compositions of words and impressions he composes. His guitar constitutes a very real second voice and when you hear him, watch him sing and play, your eyes may initially bounce back and forth from his face to his guitar quite often. It’s a sweet duet. Listen to the soulful stories and soak in some truly atmospheric guitar.

A delight was listening to his two CDs and hearing intelligent rich recordings that captured his live art. Both “perfect people are boring” and his new “The best part e.p.” reflect some thoughtful production and care.

Speaking of care, after his set at the recordBar, I watched as he took the time to talk with people. He has a humble and relaxed ease with people. That social aspect of art is not everyone’s comfort zone, but he appreciates the beauty of conversation and the opportunity to blend and learn. So when you do get to see him, expect to see him mixing about afterwards. Make a connection.

Nicole was excited about the upcoming road trip. Her favorite stories have roads and rivers. We talked about Kerouac, Huck Finn, Che’s Motorcycle Diaries, Into the Wild and I-70. That movement moves her and informs her music. From her recording, “Frondesence”, I’m hearing some delicious soul and energetic rhythm. While Kiernan composes in his journal, Nicole composes in her head and sees it upon her keyboard. That lack of keyboard portability creates an anxious feeling before being able to touch the keys. Maybe that compositional anticipation explains the soulful tones she creates.

We discussed the context and time of music. Like architecture, where interesting buildings are of their place mindful of posterity, songs similarly have the potential to capture a feeling of a certain time. Music is incredibly personal not just for the artist but also for the listener. You may find the music of these two artists in tune with your context and your time. There’s articulate suggestion, a few intellectual nudges that may transport you outside of yourself or have you examining your own scattered, traveled interior.

Treat your simulacra self to some authentic live music soon. There’s a rich mix of it in Kansas City and Kiernan and Nicole add their new ingredients beginning at 7pm, Saturday July 17th on the Czar Bar’s stage with local artist Nicolette Paige. Friend them.

Nicolette Paige

And on myspace

The Lizard Lounge, Boston


And on myspace

Nicole on myspace

The recordBar

The Czar Bar

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