I often get asked, would I like to turn music journalism into my day job? Of course that is worth a little daydream or too and both sides would benefit. Me, obviously, not wasting time on dreary tasks and more effort being able to be put into the support of artists. Practically, it would have it downsides: Every job has a plethora of bad days, competition and bickering to name but a few. So what if those disadvantages would taint my joy and love for music? Also, you don't bite the hand that feeds you. What if I cannot choose freely what I play and what I say anymore? But, no worries, no job with the Beeb in sight:-)
Is this a similar dilemma that musicians face when quitting their day job having secured a good record deal? Look, I am not saying that Steve Gunn's label Matador is anywhere close to being typical music industry moneygrabbers but Steve Gunn is a person who feels responsible, loyal and thankful, all very good characteristics but they can put a lot of strain on yourself.
These thoughts were going through my head, when I met Steve Gunn again this year. This time at the wonderful Bumann & Sohn in Cologne (comes highly recommended) and now in the middle of a virtually never ending tour. And he looks tired. But then again, Steve Gunn seemingly never sleeps. He is incredibly gifted (even though that sometimes seems to translate as lazy sod whereas calling someone hardworking conveys the impression of that person not having much talent - let's just call Steve Gunn both: Gifted and hard-working) and yet works so hard with a touch of obsessiveness about him, perfectionism, all in a good way, harming noone but himself. Granted, he loves what he does, he virtually breathes music, but I am sincerely hoping he is not burning himself out.
Not that tonight's performance is a bored, weary affair - far from it. The audience receives a fair amount of Steve Gunn's fingerpicking and improvisation mastery which he, with band and on the last album "The Unseen In Between" had moved to other projects such as his work with percussionist John Truscinski, to concentrate fully on the "easy" pop song and on singing and a full band sound. But also the songs of that last album get a dark and psyche and at times disturbing treatment to return to something so light and warm and tender. Amazing, how he does it and his long-time European band can pick up the slightest cue.
Lovely to see that the audience goes with both: Swinging along to the tracks of "The Unseen In Between" and swaying trancelike to the older or more experimental tunes and appreciating that songs live, grow up and change in time. I did not expect otherwise from Steve Gunn and his band but this performance still impressed. The most fragile version of "Stonehurst Cowboy" so far, had me in a little crying moment too.
On a more cheerful note: Support on this occasion and more to come will be "Valleymaker" and this lovely musician from Seattle rendered a perfect introduction to what was to come both with his songs and his interaction with the audience in between. IMG_20190909_211403657-1