Steve Gunn – Tickets – The Casbah – San Diego – San Diego, CA – February 8th, 2019

Steve Gunn

Casbah presents

Steve Gunn

Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore

Fri, February 8, 2019

Doors: 8:30 pm / Show: 9:30 pm

The Casbah - San Diego

San Diego, CA

$15.00

This event is 21 and over

Steve Gunn
Steve Gunn
Steve Gunn - The Unseen In Between (Matador Records)

For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one the American music’s most pivotal figures - conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record, releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile, and Michael Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced). Gunn is known for telling other people's stories, but on his breakthrough fourth album, The Unseen In Between, he explores his own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date. The lyrics evoke voyages, tempests (actual and emotional), and a rich cast of characters met along the way -- the work of an artist finding a place of calm in the midst of a storm. Produced by frequent collaborator James Elkington and engineered by Daniel Schlett, the immaculately recorded Unseen forces a reassessment of Gunn’s standing in the pantheon of the era’s great songwriters.

Getting to The Unseen In Between itself was not easy for Gunn. In the summer of 2016, Gunn released Eyes On The Lines, his winning and elliptical debut for Matador. It should have been a triumphant moment, but exactly two weeks later, Gunn’s father and namesake died following a two-year struggle with cancer. During his sickness, he and his son had connected as never before, listening to one another’s experiences and understanding one another’s perspectives; they became not father and son but real friends.

This experience yielded the emotional centerpiece of the album. “Stonehurst Cowboy” is a duet for Gunn’s raw acoustic guitar and spare basslines by Bob Dylan's musical director Tony Garnier, whose featured throughout the album. The song distills the lessons Gunn learned from his father and it is a solemn but tender remembrance, a tribute to his father’s reputation as a tough, wise, and witty guy from far west Philadelphia.

A sense of musical renewal and emotional complexity fits the new songs perfectly; “Luciano” seems to be about the chemistry between a bodega owner and his cat, an unspoken romance of gentle obedience and quiet gestures. But Gunn peers below the relationship’s surface and wonders about the owner's lonely future once the cat is gone, a devastating meditation wrapped in soft strings. And then there’s “Vagabond,” Gunn’s graceful attempt to humanize a rich cast of characters whose lives have gone astray, wanderers who live outside of society’s modern safety net, who pursue “a crooked dream” in spite of what the world expects. Supported by the perfect harmonies of Meg Baird, Gunn finds something lovely in the unloved.

Inspired by contemporary artist Walter De Maria’s Dia Art Foundation-affiliated installation of 400 stainless steel poles atop the high desert of New Mexico, “Lightning Field” considers what we get out of art when it doesn’t work, when lightning does not light up the night for visitors. Opener “New Moon" may begin in the mode of a deep track from Astral Weeks or Fred Neil, with its upright bass and sparse tremolo guitar. But during the song’s final minutes, strings double the melody, and then the guitar rushes headlong, pulling ahead in a wave of ecstatic deliverance. It is a brief but liberating solo, an instant release of tension from the fraught scene Gunn has built, complemented by one of his most arresting vocal performances.

In a final contrast, “Morning is Mended” is an acoustic beauty so resplendent it ranks alongside Sandy Denny or Jackson C. Frank. Buoyed by a melody that sparkles like sunlight on still water, Gunn acknowledges the hardships around him, the feeling of being a “nothing sky,” and then moves forward into the world, walking tall into the fresh morning. The song is an apt encapsulation of The Unseen In Between, a gorgeously empathetic record that attempts to recognize the worries of the world and offer some timely assurance. It is a revelatory and redemptive set, offering the balm of understanding at a time when that seems in very short supply.
Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore
Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore
Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore’s collective work—as solo artists, band members, and collaborators—could fill a small record collection. Despite this productivity, these two long-time friends have never recorded an entire album focused exclusively on their unique talents. "Ghost Forests" mysteriously, thrillingly fills that void.

Independently, Baird and Lattimore have each cultivated highly individual and idiosyncratic tools of expression. Baird’s timeless and soaring voice, guitar, and drums have underpinned pastoral and folk rock explorations as a soloist and in band settings with Espers and Heron Oblivion. Lattimore’s albums of enigmatic, spectral experimental harp sounds move and unfold like films and nature itself. The list of artists that have called upon their voices, talents, and visions to enrich their own work is expansive—a virtual pocket encyclopedia of contemporary indie and experimental musicians.

Over the course of "Ghost Forests"’ six collaborative compositions we hear deeply sympathetic conversations between the two artists. With access to a deep pool of shared influences, these two friends assembled a collection of sounds conjured from harp, guitar (both acoustic and electric), synths, the human voice, and a shared poetic language. Baird and Lattimore’s subjects range from the sound of light on water, seismic geopolitical anxiety, the smog-exploded sunsets of Don Dudley’s paintings, and vertigo from their respective relocations to San Francisco and Los Angeles from their once-shared home in Philadelphia.

The synthesis of their vision welcomes listeners who might have been familiar with only one of the performer’s solo oeuvres. It also speaks to long-time fans both artists who have long wondered what this dream collaboration might yield.

Steve Gunn has long known Baird and Lattimore and worked with both on his own albums. He says “Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore are two musicians that I greatly admire. 'Ghost Forests' is an ace meld of their abilities; Meg’s guitar and voice, and Mary’s harp lead each other (and us) into further regions of the strata. With each song you can hear this remarkable kinship. I’m thankful for this soundtrack.”

"Ghost Forests"’ musical conversations are intimate, fluid, effortless and spontaneous. They’re filled with the euphoria of creation and, at times, they articulate hard truths and tangled emotions with an ease only trusted friends can manage. The songs alternate between extended ethereal instrumental excursions, gauzy and dreamy pop, blown-out "Bull of the Woods" heavy haze, and modern reimaginations of epic traditional balladry—all while touching on the strange and otherworldly places between these stations.

With "Ghost Forests" Baird and Lattimore have given us all a timeless gift that generously rewards immersion and deep investigation. It is our collective good fortune as listeners that we are able to eavesdrop on their conversation through these songs. It is also a wonder to hear two unique artists interact to such beautifully original ends.
Venue Information:
The Casbah - San Diego
2501 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA, 92101
http://www.casbahmusic.com