Back Porch Festival: Anais Mitchell, Birds of Chicago, Jeffrey Foucault

BACK PORCH FESTIVAL

Back Porch Festival: Anais Mitchell, Birds of Chicago, Jeffrey Foucault

Sat · March 3, 2018

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

Academy of Music Theatre

$20 - $25

This event is all ages

Anais Mitchell
Anais Mitchell
"Mitchell is a skilled storyteller...and her delivery gives an emotional complexity that welcomes and even demands repeated listens." Pitchfork

"Currently a well-kept secret, Mitchell is writing material that stands comparison with the great singer-songwriters of the past few decades" Daily Telegraph

Anaïs Mitchell is a Vermont and Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who comes from the world of narrative folksong, poetry and balladry. She recorded for Ani Difranco's Righteous Babe Records for several years before starting her own Wilderland label in 2012. Among her recorded works are six full-length albums, including 2010's sensationally-reviewed Hadestown, a folk opera based on the Orpheus myth; 2012's Young Man in America, which was described by the UK's Independent as 'an epic tale of American becoming'; and 2013's Child Ballads, a collaboration with Jefferson Hamer, which won a BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Traditional Track.

Mitchell has headlined shows worldwide as well as supporting tours for Bon Iver, Ani Difranco, The Low Anthem (all of whom appear as guest singers on Hadestown) Josh Ritter and Punch Brothers. Her stage production of Hadestown, which was ten years in the making, opened Off-Broadway in May 2016 to rave reviews. The New York Times called it "inventive, beguiling and spellbinding" while Vogue announced that "Hadestown will be your new theater obsession". The show was extended twice as a result of critical success and sell-out performances.
Birds of Chicago
Birds of Chicago
Birds of Chicago have been riding a swell of good mojo in the Americana scene since their  inception in late 2012. With their new album, Love in Wartime,  they are set to both confirm that roots world buzz, and break on through to a much wider audience.

Recorded in Chicago against a backdrop of bewilderment, deep divide and dread, Love in Wartime is a rock and roll suite with a cinematic sweep. Co-produced with Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), it evokes epic efforts of the 60’s and 70’s, with love as the undeniable through-line.

Built around the chemistry and fire between Allison Russell and JT Nero, and their rock-steady band, BOC tours hard. Russell and Nero played with different bands in the mid-aughts (Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds) before finding their way to each other. Nero, who writes the bulk of the songs, found himself a transcendent vocal muse in Russell (a powerful writer herself) and the band honed its chops on the road, playing 200 shows a year between 2013-17. All that shaping and sharpening, over so many miles, led them back to Chicago’s Electrical Audio in January of 2017, to begin recording Love in Wartime.  "Any act of love is an act of bravery," says Russell.. We want to give people some good news. And we want them to be able to dance when they hear it."

Their most recent releases include 2016's Joe Henry-produced Real Midnight and 2017's EP American Flowers, BOC's debut from the label Signature Sounds Recordings. Critics have searched for the right words to describe Real Midnight’s deep lyricism, gut-punch singing and musicality…. “Secular gospel”  was one phrase that caught some traction.  That fervor is evident in Love and Wartime as well: “Roll Away the heavy stone/roll away the heavy hours/roll on in the summer moon/who’s alive who’s alive who’s alive?”  The invitation is joyous, but urgent. There’s another phrase that they used to describe poetry intoned over roots music mash-ups:  Rock n Roll.  The Birds consider themselves a rock and roll band first and foremost, and Love in Wartime doesn’t leave any doubt about that.

Birds’ shows attract a mix of indy rockers, jam-kids and Americana/roots lovers, mixing moments of hushed attention with wild, rock and soul abandon. Says Nero, “a good show can send you back out into the night feeling -- for at least a little while - that everything isn’t broken.”

These days, that’s no small thing.
Jeffrey Foucault
Jeffrey Foucault
“Contemporary and timeless.”
– The New York Times

“As a performer, Jeffrey Foucault has that enviable mix of great, unexpected songs and a warm and rugged stage presence that makes you feel alive and in awe all at once…’Salt as Wolves’ [is] his most satisfying record to date…it’s the record of a craftsman at the height of his powers.” – No Depression
“Pure songwriter… his songs are simple and powerful.” – NPR

I first saw Foucault play in a little Missoula theatre years ago, when many of us who grew up spinning our elders’ albums—Townes and Dylan, John Prine and Greg Brown—wandered around dolorously wondering when the next real songwriter would come along. Stetson sweaty, that little vagabond spark in his eye, he spun out a long Beam-fueled set and when it was over I walked out into the warm rain and thought, Damn. So that’s where he’s been. Since then Foucault has given American poetry some of its most vital lines and his musical searchings have become touchstones of density and durability. On this new record—his most poignant, honest, even scathing—his cry is a belt of pure blue Wisconsin lake ice with a back of December sunlight angling through bare limbed birches. Not so much penned as lived, these songs—about a show played perfectly to an empty bar, the real ones who die with nothing half the time— offer listeners that rare artistic combination of a voice and a world. And while there’s nothing not lonely about these songs, you can’t hear them and feel remotely alone. Here is our hurricane lamp, the heart whose flame won’t go out, whatever the wind. Hold it close.
Venue Information:
Academy of Music Theatre
274 Main Street
Northampton, MA, 01060
http://aomtheatre.com/