It is an amazing thing, to watch something grow, and change and become something wholly different than it started out. The Red Room started off as a listening room, but seems to be shifting. I have good reason to believe that those who have performed within its walls, and those yet to come, are having an effect in the Soul of the room. The comments about the feel of the place by every artist so far have just blown me away. There is a growing peacefulness, a calmness, to the space. I am personally very surprised at it, because San Antonio is known for having a large number of "hauntings", if you like. A lot of places around this city contain the echo of those who have lived there before; they can effect how the ones currently live there react to the place. This one was so clean, so empty, and is being filled up by the spirit left behind, the little piece that each artist leaves when she/he sings and plays to its walls. It is a wonderous thing to watch progress.
As the reader might figure, this was a very good weekend. Salim Nourallah from Dallas came here Friday, guitarist Chris Holt in tow. Chris did an opening set that was delightful. I knew well how good he was on the guitar but was caught by his singing and songwriting. Then Salim came up and the two of them proceeded to cut a path through the human spirit that few who witnessed will forget. The whole range of emotion was their playing field, with skilled playing, wonderful sublties, and some great harmonies. On the mind of Salim much of the night was the recent and sudden passing of a friend from the Dallas area. He dug down deep and played several songs for her, quite literaly bringing me to tears at one point. I have not often been tempted to walk away from music, but I came close. Brought to my mind were all those who have passed before me, leaving me with one less person to walk through this world with. It was almost overwhelming, and I cannot credit enough his fearless stepping into his own soul for it. It takes much courage to get up there and open like that to an audience, even with so many friends in the room. It was, dare I say, magical. Truly not a night to be forgotten.
This evening was Graham Weber, with friend Chris Bercht along to help out. Chris did a lovely opening set (this was unplanned by us, but quite a nice surprise.) He has a style that closely resembles Dylan's, something Delphine had said of Graham.
Had I judged it strictly from his CD, I might have agreed, but after what Graham did on stage, i am more inclined to compare him to Arlo Guthrie, or to some extent Dan Fogelburg. He has a tremendous way with words, creating pictures that last through the entire song, fade only slightly as he goes on to the next story, and morph into the next patchwork of mind-images. I am at a lack from another metaphor for the guitar work; words just fail sometimes. I just know I seriously look forward to his next visit in about fve weeks. And the next CD. There are some astounding songs due to be recorded for it.
When I find such talent, like my current favourite, Mando Saenz, out there, I am just mind-blown that these guys haven't been discovered and signed. I know if I had the money, there would be a new label out there, trying to catch up all this amazing talent that is making its way into my life. There just shouldn't be such prejudice toward the songwriter who writes with greater depth; I think a lot of people would come to it, if they only could hear of it. For that reason alone, I feel MySpace to be a great thing. It is giving so many performers a chance to be heard, to meet each other, and hook up. So many of them are talking about going to Europe, and I know Europe will take to them. I hope we don't lose them as a result. This nation needs to catch up and appreciate the born talent of its artists, before that can happen.
I think places like the Red Room, and our sister up in Dallas, Bend, and a couple of other little places around the state can make that change happen. We have to make it so that what is out there can be heard. Too much of the radio and the industry aren't going to do it. We must.
I am sort of in a different state of mind. Watching this little business become a warm, welcoming home for the indie artist, the heart-touching, gut wrenching songwriter, ia a trip. I think back on it a lot during the work week. And I seriously look forward to the weeks to come. So far, so many have been awesome surprises, beyond what I think anyone expected. I can't wait to see where it goes.