Category Archives: Acoustic

Weekly Dig 3/31-4/6

Django Reinhardt – Sultan of Swing

Sultan of SwingI’m going old school for this dig. Django Reinhardt is a Jazz/Swing guitarist who had his hay day back in the 30’s and 40’s. When he was 18 he was caught in a fire and had severe burns all over his body. That accident paralyzed two of his fingers on his left hand, and forced him to re-learn how to play the guitar after his recovery. The amount of guitar playing he was able to re-learn is downright incredible. With his half of a left hand he still managed to become quite the accomplished musician. Spotify has tons of best of collections of Django and his quintet, and it makes for some great easy listening.  The two most prominent members of the quintet are Django on the guitar, and Stephane Grappelli on the violin, so expect them to take most of the solos. I’ve only been able to listen to a small fraction of what they have on Spotify, it’s a disgustingly large amount of music, but it makes me appreciate Spotify even more. Where else are you going to find an endless collection of old timey jazz music?


William Fitzsimmons 5/18 2011 @ The Urban Lounge

The night was a night to celebrate facial hair. Not only did we have William Fitzsimmon, also known as king beard, the opening band Slow Runner also displayed some great facial hair that probably isn’t acceptable in normal society, but works really well in the music scene. Michael Flynn sported a great bushy mustache, and Johnathan Grey was reminiscent of Mario with a slightly curled mustache, Josh Kaler was the only one without anything growing on his face. I’m convinced that any more cool decorations of the face would have been too cool so he took the hit for the team and kept his face clean.

Slow Runner was the only band opening up for Fitzy, and later we came to find out that they are also his backing band. Because of that they had plenty of time to play and showed us how diverse their sound could be. They are a trio from Charleston South Carolina with a fairly unique set up. Michael Flynn play’s the keyboard and sings, Johnathan Grey played the bass, the banjo, and the mandolin, and Josh Kaler added the drums, guitar and steel guitar to the mix. Their opening song was a fairly slow song, slow but epic, and reminded me a lot of Low stylistically. With the next few songs they played they really picked up the pace and showed us their fun rockin’ indie side. Michael had some fantastic melodies on his piano and also with his voice. Josh was also very fun to watch. He threw down some interesting rythms on his drum kit while simultaneously playing a xylophone. Each song they played was a little different and brought something new to the table. They were a great opener.

William Fitzsimmons had a great interaction with the crowd, and a great self awareness. He was always making light of how he’s written “400 albums on divorce” and how sad all of his music is, he made jokes about his beard, and it just added a lot to the night. Outside of him being a funny guy he played fantastic, his singing was spot on, his guitar playing was great, and it was fun to have Slow Runner come on for a lot of the songs and add their pizaz. He played a good mix from all of his albums, and the only song I wished he would have played that he didn’t was “Shattered.” The songs he did play that I really enjoyed were “Passion Play,” “Beautiful Girl,” “The Tide Pulls From The

Moon,” “Find it in Me,” and, well, most of the songs played. For his last song of his encore all four guys unplugged and came down into the crowd and played among us. It was kind of hard to hear since he sings in such hushed tones, but overall it was very cool and was a great way to end the night. Here’s a picture of his setlist if you’re curious as to the other songs he played. For his encore he played “Mend Your Heart,” and two or three other songs that I couldn’t recognize or have forgotten. One was a song from Until When We Were Ghosts and one was from Gold in the Shadow.

This was definitely one of the more somber concerts that I have been to. There was a sadness that settled over the crowd and at times it seemed almost palpable. I think that is a testament to how emotionally charged William Fitzsimmons’ music is. It is very close and personal to Fitzimmons himself and he explained that’s why he tried to present more of  a reconciliation in Gold in the Shadow. In his own words he didn’t want to end up one of those guys jumping off of a bridge in a couple of years. I’m kind of excited for the swing in moods for his music. No, I don’t think Gold in the Shadow lives up to some of his previous works, but I think that there is a lot of potential with him moving in that direction, and I look forward to seeing what else he can come up with.


Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beard!

Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) is commonly credited with the most epic beard in music, and it is a fantastic beard, but the truth needs to be heard. Just take a look at William Fitzsimmons here. After watching this video I’ll think you’ll join my persuasion and realize that Fitzy is king beard, but before I change subjects I want to give an honorable mention to Kyp Malone.

Moving on. As important as beards are that’s not really what this post is about. I think it’s more important that Fitzsimmons’ music be heard. With whispered vocals, reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens and Sam Beam, his acoustic guitar, and his fantastic song-writing skills, this man makes some incredibly beautiful music. I love his debut Until When We Are Ghosts, it stands as one of the saddest records ever and it blows me away every time I listen to it.

Fitzy is releasing a new album next month, Gold in the Shadow, and it’s got me all excited. I’d been a little disappointed with The Sparrow and The Crow. I’m not sure what it was exactly about that album, but after the first half, which is really good, I got worn out. From the songs up on youtube and other clips I’ve heard from his upcoming release he seems back on the top of his game. His sound has expanded from just his guitar to add in horns, bells, piano, and all manner of goodness.

I find this promo video especially interesting as he talks about his emotional state while touring and writing and everything else that went along with being a performer. For all of my friends in the music therapy major, I’m pretty sure a couple of you are in it,  it seems from this video that Fitzy is also one or at least very interested in the subject. He uses some great words and seems like a pretty intelligent guy, not that that really has anything to do with anything.

Anyway, just watch the video and get as excited for this album as I am.