Monday, September 27, 2010

Sam and Dave

American music, when it is informed with the expansive plains and horizons found west of our great intersecting river, has the ability to crisply capture landscapes and faces with clear poetry and elegant musical simplicity. American literature often speaks of movement. American poetry summarizes life in the same way that people who work hard rarely hold forth, but when they speak, one leans forward to listen.

Sam Baker’s songs sound as if they begin with authentic life in the expanses of America, process and distill the spaces into short lines of image and narrative, and then receive colors of sound emanating from his acoustic guitar. His recordings add layers of fiddle, crisp drum at times, and a few angels in the wings. But despite the subtle strata of orchestration, Sam sounds as if he’s standing courageous in a spotlight with his guitar, giving to you.

There’s this newish musical genre called Americana. Based in Nashville, those commercial musicologists seek to define these artworks swirling about in our nation; this sound of heart and soul that has no geographical anchor. It’s urban and agrarian. Musical outlaws, most of them. You know the ones; Townes, Emmylou, Jim Lauderdale, Johnny Cash, Kris, Willie perhaps. Ry Cooder? John Mellencamp, a former Led Zepplin alum, Allison. You’ve heard them out there on the fringes of your life beyond the suburbs, and in the heart of the city at that dive you’re hesitant to enter. You liked Born to Run, but you listened intently to Nebraska.

Sam Baker’s out there, and he’s in here; that American heart of yours. It may sound a bit rough, a fraction too painfully truthful. His songs, laced with poignant narrative and authenticity, may make you feel something. Art does that…it makes you feel.

Sam plays at the Uptown on November 13th at 8pm.

There's a Kansas City songwriter and singer that really grabs me in this way...his name is David Regnier (reng-nay)...he and his acoustic guitar speak with emotional truth bravely alone, connecting songs of fragmentation and question...and when he sings with his band,The Dead Voices, he brings the same songs to an incredible resurrection with joy...everyone's looking for Townes re-incarnated...Townes' truth is Townes'...David's still workin' on his...and his truth hurts while making you feel good. David will be recording over the coming months, but you can hear him most weeks in Kansas City.

Photos, David, below...Sam

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