When I was in high school I obsessed over certain bands and singers. Sometimes it was because their lyrics spoke to me, their beats could make me dance all night… but usually it was because of image. Some hot guy mourning over a girl, a badass woman with a nose ring singing about female empowerment. The image always did it for me, it was that thing that got me emotionally invested in an artist.
I’ve written about my reconnection to music before, but a big difference in my new love of music and old is the lack of the visual. I’m not turning on MTV every day after school, I’m not seeking out videos on YouTube or Googling pictures of artists. Often, I find band recommendations from the pages of Rolling Stone or Bust, or through friends or music forums. I often download music or add to a Spotify playlist based solely on the artists’ name or title and maybe a brief paragraph or “sounds like” description.
While there are some artists I find even better with the visual (well HELLO Father John Misty), many I prefer without the visual to muddy the message. One I think of the most is Jim James and My Morning Jacket. I find this man and this band utterly brilliant – simple yet poetic lyrics, creative songs, ability to play so many different instruments, music that is entertaining, thought-provoking, catchy, yet unique. As for appearance? I don’t care what they’re wearing, I don’t care what they look like, I don’t really care one way or another about album art and have seen very few videos. I just love Jim’s voice, the lyrics, the sound, the whole package.
This past Tuesday, I went with my sister and husband to see Jim James perform solo at the 9:30 Club. We’re such big fans of MMJ that we’re fan club members, and got there early for primo location during the live event. The show did not disappoint – Jim James is a genius and also a stellar performer. I think the show blew Karl’s mind; he’s not the type to get all gaga over anything, but is a giggle teenager when it comes to Jim James. I had a blast, he was SO good, so engaging with the audience, did a fan-geek encore with solo, MMJ and Monsters of Folk songs (as well as a couple covers). In my eyes, James can do no wrong and I can’t wait to see him again at Forecastle Fest this July.
I go to see concerts these days to see the artists do what they do best – perform their music. Jam out, see the skill on their instruments, hear voices without computer enhancement, experience the unexpected. When I was younger, I geeked over musicians hoping to touch them, make eye contact, have a bit of a fantasy in my head along with the songs. Now, I just want to go on the ride that comes with the music, and the scenery is in my mind. I think this is why I have become a major geek over Jim James and My Morning Jacket; I think they encourage this sort of fandom. They want us to think, they want us to journey, they want us to be surprised and elated and excited and they feel these emotions with us through the concert.
If Jim James is heading to a venue near you I encourage you to get a ticket. He’s hitting up venues much smaller than MMJ would perform at, and not many know him by his name meaning the crowd is friendly yet passionate. I hadn’t been to a show since Superbowl weekend and this show was just what the doctor ordered to get my music mojo back and have me in the swing for festival season!