I am a writer, a spinner of words. There comes a time when words just don't do it, just cannot seem to communicate an experience well enough for the reader to really get what I mean though. It is then that I paint or draw, trying to capture what seems elusive.....
I should've had my pad with me the other night. I do not know what would've been born, but it might do better here, right now,
Ian Moore came to the Red Room Thursday. He brought with him his multi-instrument playing compadre, Kullen Kuchs. I wasn't certain what was going to go on up there, but before the first tune was even half way over, I knew something special was building in that place. It's one thing to be a singer-songwriter. It is another to be a storyteller. It is yet another to reach beyond that and learn to paint and sculpt with words and music. That is perhaps the best description I can give of what these two did inside those walls.
The first song set a mood, planted a spell....it was like a cauldron of ingredients, both artist and audience, being mixed with sound and the right chant. I see in my mind's eye a swirling, growing cloud of smoke, full of images half-recognised, but so familiar. I hear the drone of the chant, calling one into meditation, and a different state of mind.
Yup. they did this to their audience. It was astounding. Someone sitting in the back, when I told her there were places further forward if she wanted them, informed me should would be leaving in a few minutes. She sayed til the last note died away, some 90 minutes later. I hated to be distracted, but it wan't difficult to fall right back into the mood. Ian kept a tight , though gentle grip on his audience.
One of the delights of the evening was a shift he and Kullen made on their own. They stepped off our little stage, moving a few feet out toward the audience. Kullen brought out his accordian, Ian his guitar, and they stood among us, singing songs in wonderful harmonies. No one there thought about cell phones or chit-chat; we were engrossed in this intimate moment.
And what a voice! I think Ian must have a four octave stretch or better. His clean and perfect transitions remind me of Shawn Phillips so much. I think some opera singers would be jealous. I know most other vocalists would be taken back a step or two.
Oh and Kullen! Kullen saved the soul of a piano that has been sitting at the Red Room for a couple of months, gathering dust, being a knick-knack holder. It was proclaimed to be untunable and unrepairable, and its fate had seemed sealed. When Kullen opened the keys up, while he and Ian were in the audience, a shudder of fear,and embarassment, welled up in me.......then he touched it, lightly at first. Instrument and musician felt each other out, and found common ground. Sounds I did not think it capable of making were carressed out of that piano, and a flurry of tears joined the shock on my face. I know now that I will do what i can to protect that little grandma's -sitting-room piano, until Kullen can come back and try to work it into shape. He believes it can be given new life, and I have to believe someone who can take such time and tenderness to find use for the discarded. It speaks of a true artist, not just of the human being.
We have had some tremendous musicians come to the Red Room already, leaving there bit of soul in the walls, on the stage. The place has built such a wonderful vibe that no artist has yet had even a single negative word for us or the experience. Whatever this place started as, it has become larger in soul than anything we could ever have done to it. I can only use so many words to describe some of the experiences we have witnessed here, and this one is harder than most. I had a friend there who saw Ian about 15 years ago, and his comment was "It's nice to see an artist grow so much."
Whatever journey he has gone through, the Red Room and Ian found a crossroads the other night. It was something that no one there will forget, and no one who wasn't there would probably be able to get without having been there. But he and Kullen left a whole new patina of soul and spirit on the walls, in the curtains. I daresay it will bring further changes on from its mere presence. and I really hope we have theirs again, in the not so distant future.
( I spent last evening with my dear Del Castillo, in Austin, but the day calls. I have so missed my beloved brothers; I know I will have to write about them soon, but the RR calls, among other things. All I will defifnitely say is Happy Birthday Beto! I love you!)