Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jeffrey Foucault Plays to Crowded House at Club Passim in Harvard Square 3/31/12

Photo Courtesy of   http://www.jeffreyfoucault.com/press.html    

Outlaw folk musician Jeffrey Foucault had Club Passim bursting at the seams on Saturday night.  Just a few steps down from street level, fans crowded into the landmark venue nabbing any available nook that they could find.  Armed with his guitar, Foucault literally had to squeeze his way through the friendly shuffle to get on stage.  He flashed a smile, joked a bit about his day, and plugged in.

What happened next was amazing, and I’m not just saying that as a goofy fan-geek.  He maneuvered through sixteen songs, captivating the audience’s complete concentration.  He did this by simply feeling every note and meaning every word he sang.  He was believable.  He had me at first strum.

He connected both musically and lyrically with the crowd.   He called up his friend and opener Hayward Williams to play along with him for several songs.  They were free and unincorporated, treating the audience to a solid set of rootsy-Americana.  Harkening the days of old, Foucault’s music visualized simplicity with surprisingly fresh verses.  Highlights from the show included the songs:

“Starlight & Static” – heartbreaking and beautifully phrased.
“Careless Flame” – a gently swaying folk lullaby that was sad and sweet – my favorite song of the night.
Passerines” - is a perfect example of his poetic genius melodically set in motion.  My favorite line from this song is “the ghosts of wolves and passerines crying down the valley.”
The Encore Song “Tulsa Time” – this classic Don Williams cover was the perfect ending to a great show. 

There is something about Foucault that is almost hard to explain.  Something we don’t see much of these days.  His phrasing reveals simple truths.  His musicality bleeds original form.  His songs unpretentiously examine the shadowy corners of our retrospective selves.  He played and sang in a way that only the soul can understand. 

Interview with Jeffrey Foucault:

KellyYou’ve been on the road a lot lately, how is the tour going for you?
Jeffrey Foucault:  It’s going fine, thanks.  I’m on the road about 100 nights a year now, nothing like what I used to be, and the balance with the rest of life feels pretty reasonable most times.  I like to play and the travel keeps my mind from getting too restless.

Kelly:  You have an expansive body of work.  Do you ever listen to your own music, or is that weird/hard for you as an artist?
Jeffrey Foucault:  You listen hard enough in the mixing and mastering of a record that every note is memorized.  There isn’t much desire to listen to them for pleasure after that, it’s pretty clinical.  I heard my last record in a Starbucks and it took me about 30 seconds to figure out what record it was.

Kelly:  Songs seem to flow right out of you, do you feel that you come by songwriting naturally? 
Jeffrey Foucault:  No, I don’t guess so.  Or rather, it depends on what you mean.  I wouldn’t do it on a desert island, though I’d probably sing.  Writing is communicative.  The progression was natural enough from listener to guitar player, writer, and then performer.  But I might have done any number of things to satisfy the same impulse toward getting to the heart of things.

Kelly:  Do current events ever influence your music, directly or indirectly?
Jeffrey Foucault:  Yes.

Kelly:  What was the first record that you purchased as a kid with your own money?
Jeffrey Foucault:  Little Richard’s Greatest Hits, and I will stand by that choice.

Kelly: …  Just when I thought you were perfect …   ;)  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.  I really enjoyed the show, and look forward to seeing you again!  

Check out his official website here

Train to Jackson; Call Jesus; Starlight & Static; Last Night I Dreamed of Television; Careless Flame; Idaho;  Pretty Girl In A Small Town; Heart to the Husk; Mesa Arizona; Northbound 35; Everybody’s Famous; Passerines; Ghost Repeaters; Tulsa Time

Ratings (1-5 Stars - 1 being the lowest & 5 being the highest for a total score of 25 points):

Performance: One of the best live performances I have ever seen *****
Sound Quality:  Awesome *****
Ticket Price: Reasonable $20.00 *****
Venue: Intimate *****
Travel/Parking: I avoid driving in the Cambridge/Boston area so the easiest way for me to travel is to take the Amtrack from Dover, NH to  Boston North Station, and then hop on the subway *****
Total Score:25 points!

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