Walter Salas-Humara/Jeremiah Nelson; July 2, 2009; Kiki’s House of Righteous Music
People are funny. The house was packed in March of 2007 as sixty plus floated in and out of the Silos/Jon Dee Graham show. Walter Salas-Humara is the Silos, the only consistent member, the voice and the songwriter, yet not even twenty showed up to see him play a solo set, even though the only difference between then and tonight was a rhythm section. As an added attraction he brought along some of his artwork to sell along with the Silos’ extensive catalog of CDs. Walters Dogs are aren’t particularly anatomically correct, their legs look like spaghetti, their eyes like eggs, some have two heads, some have five legs, but they are all adorable. I’d bought two online previously, and adopted another tonight.
The shortage of people didn’t seem to bother Walter much (low turn-outs seem to affect me much more than they do the musicians), and he used the opportunity to make the show even more intimate by unplugging his guitar and strolling around the audience singing. Many of the songs came from his intriguing “I’m Not Jim” release written and recorded with author Jonathan Letham. The pair wrote the songs together and then sent the barebones recordings off to a couple of producers known as the Elegant Too (Chris Maxwell and Phil Hernandez) who turned it into something else entirely. “Uncomplicated” is exactly that, while “The Pitchers Gave Up,” about a ridiculously high-scoring game where even the shortstops were taking their turn on the mound, would be worthy of the Baseball Project. Other songs came from the Silos vast catalog, some I knew, some I didn’t, but it was all good. Made even better by his unconventional approach.
Openers Jeremiah Nelson and Shawn Drake were happy to stay on their side of the microphones, though that was due to the fact that Jeremiah was forced to sit. “Usually I wouldn’t be sitting down,” he explained, “but I lent my guitar strap to a very frantic Freddy Johnston last week at Steel Bridge and never got it back.” The pair often plays together during Jeremiah’s weekly gig at Mickey’s Tavern, but tonight sounded even better without all the commotion inherent to the east side institution. Most of the set consisted of Jeremiah’s newest songs which I think are among the best he’s written. “Daisy Chain” and “Run-on Sentence” are both smart and pretty, while the latter makes clever use of the two meanings of sentence. And this is my favorite way to hear them, acoustic guitar and violin, Shawn’s backing vocals complimenting Jeremiah’s lyrical and hypnotic voice. Though I will concede his rock band the Achilles Heel also does right by them.
I tried to get Jeremiah to play an encore song after his 45 minute set, but he passed. “I just really want to hear Walter play.” It was a great night of great music. I enjoyed every minute of it, but more importantly I think the musicians did too.
Jeremiah Nelson & Shawn Drake