Friday, February 26, 2010 ... 1:45 PM
On the Trail of the Dave Rawlings Machine, part 2
Earlier this month, my friends Carolyn Fryberger and Ginger Kowal spent a few days following the The Dave Rawlings Machine along the end of their tour in the great Northwest. Carolyn and Ginger are the founders of the Dave Rawlings Machine Fan Club -- and, I think I can say, friends of Dave and Gil as well. I asked them to write about their trek for the Tent Revue, and they both sent me wonderful pieces -- not only descriptive but thoughtful and interesting as well. I think you'll enjoy them. I posted Ginger's piece yesterday. Here is what Carolyn wrote for us.
(Thanks to Lindsey Best for letting me use her photographs of the Dave Rawlings Machine in these entries.)
The first show I saw of this tour was in Asheville, North Carolina in November, the second night of the first leg. I saw my eighth and final show (really I should just say the most recent; summer dates have already been announced!) in Olympia, Washington in February, the last show of second leg. In Asheville Gillian joked that they didn’t really know what the Machine did yet, but that they were sure it wore denim.
The tour began with long and frequent tuning breaks, and constant departure from the set list. More often than not Dave led off a song met with confused looks from Gil and the rest of the band and the grabbing of capos. By Olympia, the show was flowing from one song to the next with only the nod of Dave’s head, all met with delight by a group of fans that has swelled and amplified since the release of this first album. They had become – dare I say it? – a well-oiled Machine.
Now I haven’t followed any other act around as much as I have Dave and Gil, but my feeling is that their willingness to perform in this way – to put it all out there and to float from one song to the next as it feels right, to allow an audience to be witness to their transformation – is very rare. You get to watch them responding to each other, to the crowd, to their instruments and to the songs themselves. To see Dave and Gil perform is to watch them actively weaving together all the separate elements of the stage into an expression of a pure and distilled emotion. By the end of a show it feels as though you’ve had an intimate conversation with them, in which they revealed truths at once personal and universal.
Dave and Gil are phenomenal musicians of course, but I have seen phenomenal musicians that did not inspire me to seek them out in any corner of the country they may be playing. It is this intimacy that has kept me going to shows, far and near, for three years. I love to watch that interaction, to be part of it, and to watch it evolve from show to show. I love the intoxication of just feeling those emotions they conjure, to feel as though I am played by their melodies and exist for a moment in the space created by their harmonies.
Then after the show comes their only experiences of me as a fan, which are the brief conversations during which I am too excited, smiling too much, too eager, tripping over words and making stupid jokes. It’s a funny relationship to have with another person, so one-sided – I mean, they don’t want me to sign anything for them. Sometimes I think, “That’s it, from now on I will go to shows, but I won’t talk to them.” But that’s part of it, that rush of waiting to talk to someone who has become larger than life, and then the sweetness of finding that they are still just a real person, someone you could imagine yourself being friends with.
Thanks again to Carolyn and Ginger both for contributing to the Tent Revue.
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Two Hell Among the Yearlings outtakes, A New Dug Grave and Company Grave Blues, are now available for download on DIME. They originally appeared on advance promo copies of the album which had a different track order at the time. More details about that here for those interested: http://www.observer.com/node/40879
Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas
(Novello Festival Press, April 2008)
includes my essay, "Link Wray"
Flop Eared Mule
The Celestial Monochord
Dig and Be Dug in Return
Modern Acoustic Magazine / Blog
The Old, Weird America
Honey, Where You Been So Long?
The Greensboro Review
Fried Chicken and Coffee
Mungo (This was the blog of my friend, the late Cami Park. Miss you, Cami.)
Cat and Girl
Film Freak Central