See Us Live

Dan Wilson, Martin Sexton Trio, Son Little, Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers and Rachel Sermanni on Mountain Stage

September 24, 2017 7:00 PM
Culture Center Theater, Charleston, WV

Dan Wilson
Martin Sexton Trio
Son Little
Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers
Rachel Sermanni
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Ticket Information

State Capitol Grounds – Greenbrier & Washington Streets Charleston, WV

DIRECTIONS

Doors 6:30pm

Show 7:00pm


*Available to Mountain Stage Members starting Friday, June 16 at 10am*


*PUBLIC ON SALE: FRIDAY, June 23 AT 10AM*

Advance Tickets: $30

Day of Show: $35

Available online, by phone (877.987.6487), or at Taylor Books - Downtown Charleston.​

Press Release

Dan Wilson ​- Dan Wilson is a singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and occasional cartoonist.  He is best known as the lead singer of the band Semisonic, for which he wrote the Grammy-nominated smash “Closing Time” as well as other international hits including “Secret Smile” and “Chemistry.”  Prior to that, he was a member of the band Trip Shakespeare, whose long-haired psychedelia influenced a generation of Midwestern bands long after their breakup in the early 90s. Since Semisonic, Dan has released two solo albums: Free Life (produced with Rick Rubin) and Live at the Pantages.  He has also become a highly sought-after songwriting collaborator, perhaps due to his slow-drip brew of philosophic and artistic seriousness, dry Midwestern humor (well-known to his live audiences and evident in his online sketchbook,) and songwriting, performing and production skills.  As a songwriter and producer, he has worked with a diverse group of artists including Adele, Dixie Chicks, John Legend, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Taylor Swift, Jim James, Pink, Dierks Bentley, Nas, Josh Groban, Weezer, Carole King, and many others. “I’ve heard people describe my list of collaborators as ‘eclectic,’” he says. “But there’s a lot of consistency there, too. I’m interested in writing only with great musical artists, people who have a fascinating vision and want to push themselves to their limits.” Dan contributed three songs to Adele’s album, 21, including the hit “Someone Like You,” which he also produced, thus earning himself a Grammy for Album of the Year.  A few years earlier, Wilson took home a Song of the Year Grammy for “Not Ready to Make Nice,” one of six songs he co-wrote for the Dixie Chicks’ award-winning album Taking the Long Way.

Martin Sexton TrioRemember that mix tape your friend made you way back when - the one that's etched in your soul?  Martin Sexton's new album Mixtape of the Open Road is that musical cross-country trip, blazing through all territories of style, as you cruise through time and place. This record is a charm bracelet of twelve gems all strung together with the golden thread of what Rolling Stone calls a  "soul marinated voice." A native of Syracuse, N.Y., and the tenth of 12 children, Martin Sexton grew up in the ’80s. Uninterested in the music of the day, he fueled his dreams with the timeless sounds of classic rock ’n’ roll. As he discovered the dusty old vinyl left in the basement by one his big brothers, his musical fire was lit. Sexton eventually migrated to Boston, where he began to build a following singing on the streets of Harvard Square, gradually working his way through the scene. His 1992 collection of self-produced demo recordings, In the Journey, was recorded on an old 8-track in a friend’s attic. He managed to sell 20,000 copies out of his guitar case. From 1996 to 2002 Sexton released Black SheepThe AmericanWonder Bar and Live Wide Open. The activity and worldwide touring behind these records laid the foundation for the career he enjoys today with an uncommonly loyal fan base; he sells out venues from New York’s Nokia Theatre to L.A.’s House of Blues, and tours regularly across Canada and Europe. Happily and fiercely independent, Martin Sexton launched his own label, KTR, in 2002. Since then he has infiltrated many musical worlds, performing at concerts ranging from pop (collaborating with John Mayer) to the Jam scene to classic rock (collaborating with Peter Frampton); from the Newport Folk Fest to Bonnaroo to New Orleans Jazz Fest to a performance at Carnegie Hall. Regardless of his reputation as a musician’s musician, Sexton can’t keep Hollywood away. His songs can be heard in many feature films and television including NBC’s Scrubs, Parenthood and Showtime’s hit series Brotherhood. Stage, film and television aside, when Sexton isn’t touring he often mixes entertainment with his sense of social responsibility, performing at benefits for Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camp, the Children’s Tumor Foundation, Japan earthquake/tsunami relief (The John Lennon Tribute), and Hurricane Irene relief efforts in Vermont, to name some. In 2007 Sexton began his most successful years to date with the release of his studio offering Seeds. The album debuted at #6 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, and the Los Angeles Times said, “Call him a soul shouter, a road poet, a folkie or a rocker and you wouldn’t be wrong.” The live CD/DVD set Solo, which includes a DVD of his performance at Denver’s Mile High Festival, followed in 2008. In 2010 the album Sugarcoating found this one-of-a-kind-troubadour doing what he does best: locating larger truths. After hearing it, NBC anchor Brian Williams sought Martin out to sit down for an interview backstage at New York’s Beacon Theatre. It’s now featured on MSNBC’s BriTunes. The accolades continue. Billboard called Sexton’s version of “Working Class Hero” for the Lennon tribute/benefit in 2010 “chill-inspiring.” Released this November as part of The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute album, the track is available on iTunes.

Son LittlePLAYING HIS SONGS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND IN EUROPE OVER THE PAST YEAR, WITH A WIDE RANGE OF ARTISTS AND TO VARYING AUDIENCES, SON LITTLE HAS NOTICED SOMETHING PARTICULAR ABOUT HIS OWN MUSIC. “As I’ve been going around to different places with this very eclectic mix of other acts, one thing that’s struck me about my music is just how American it is,” he says. And while he’s not wearing a stars-and-stripes polo while shooting fireworks and holding a sousaphone, his sentiment rings true. Here in this proud, brave land of blurred lines and regional dishes is a musical melting pot that sizzles and smokes, from sea to shining sea. Son Little is stirring that broth. “Part of what’s unique about this country is its intense mixture of things. People in different regions don’t always understand each other that well, but music can go places that people won’t always go. That’s part of who I am and definitely part of the music I’m making, so now more than ever I feel very American.” The artist formerly known as Aaron Livingston knows his nation well. He was born to a preacher and a teacher in Los Angeles, where he learned how to listen and how to play before moving east to New York and New Jersey. He dropped in and out of schools in Manhattan then Philadelphia, and there he collaborated with acts like The Roots and RJD2. He first planted his flag as Son Little with last year’s highly praised EP, Things I Forgot, a small collection of big songs that showcased his ability to hop across genres as well as he does state lines. The pastiche and reach of his music is all over the map, literally. And he can hear a map in his music. In it, he can recognize the places he’s lived, traveled, and played to, places explored and discovered. “I hear places in the songs without trying to evoke them while writing. I can trace where a lot of my music came from, as my life and my family touch so many different places. I can hear the Gulf Coast of Louisiana in my voice, the way I say some of the words; I hear New York, definitely in my lyrics. Detroit is a place I haven’t spent a ton of time in, but if I explore the music of Detroit, I can hear myself in there, too.” The bins of Son Little’s record store are divided into sections called “Tuesday 3 a.m.” or “Fluorescent Blues” or “Saying Goodbye” rather than “Rock” or “Soul” or “Pop.” It’s a space where people can discover fresh sounds they might not have been expecting based on feelings, emotions, and truth rather than imaginary lines drawn in the sand. “I never thought that genres matter, I just mixed them all up and put them next to each other,” he says. “Making a mix growing up, I’d put Nirvana next to Nas next to Coltrane; Hendrix next to Naughty By Nature, whatever. I always thought of it that way. I actually feel like it’s maybe the norm that people don’t even think about it anymore, except in the industry, where there’s more pressure to conform. Maybe the landscape is so blurry it makes people nervous, they just want to categorize something. Using band names as adjectives, that’s kinda cool but I look at it from my own thing and it’s gonna need more band names.” In truth, Son Little’s music is devoid of genre, as it blends sounds together into a bright white hotness, like all the colors in the spectrum do when finding focus as one. As the saturation of light increases, color appears more pure. His new full-length album, Son Little, does the same. The sonic elements create visuals and vice versa. The album’s cover image is a saturated snapshot of a whirring, suited Son, worked over with long exposures and leaky ink, revealing a brilliant portrait of the blurry artist: the pure man with the pure music. “There’s a lot of different colors there and they kinda fade into each other, but the constant for me is the dream, the smudge, the saturation,” he says. “Every color there is very deep, very rich; you put them all together and it’s the bright light of the sun.” The songs inside follow suit. They teem with small moments creating a bigger picture, a pointillist art piece made from junkyards and viewed from space. Pulling inspiration from the color wheel diaspora of American music, Son Little draws from a deep well, using different buckets to visit and revisit, finding flourishes to add to the core of his songs. There, at the end of “Doctor’s In,” is a roving banjo; there, at the start of “Go Blue Blood Red,” is a keyboard riff culled from a kid’s Blue Man Group keyboard; there, in “Carbon,” is an electric Howlin’ Wolf stomp and start. For Son Little, studio time is a joy, where every good idea leads to four more, so it’s back to the buckets. And all this weaving and digging is in his DNA. It comes easily and honestly, since he is the person he claims to be and has lived the life he sings about. It’s all there in his lyrics, the tales of struggle and joy, of fear and fortitude. His words, chosen with care and delivered with skill, address relationships with class and race as well as with people and projects. Vulnerability and virility are sung in equal parts, showing us the actual measure of a man rather than the imaginary bulletproof titan that pervades today’s airwaves. In this world so concerned with the “realness” of its artists, in this industry of hyper-categorizing and compartmentalizing every last detail, it’s easy to forget what “being true” is all about. Somewhere along the path it became cool to clam up, to stay icy, to keep in line and collect your check. It takes courage to be real, and to Son Little, the only way to be real is to simply be yourself. “The easy way to describe my audience would be to say it’s pretty broad, but the more accurate way of saying it is that my audience is the brave,” he says. “It’s the people who move amongst different crowds easily, who are open to new things and not waiting for other people to tell them what to like, who are very certain and know what they want to hear. That feeling has been strengthened by all these shows I’ve played in different markets, with artists who are so different from each other. I meet these people, and the thing they have most in common is that they don’t care what the trend is, or what other people think about it, what’s it’s called. They don’t care about any of that shit, they just like what they like and that’s that. It’s not about gender, age, race, nationality, or any of those things; it’s just about how you feel inside, about the world. It’s more of an attitude, a sense, than it is a genre or trend. It’s not a shirt at Urban Outfitters. It’s a lot deeper than that.” To call Son Little, both the artist and the album, brave would be perhaps the most apt compliment you could pay. Like his fearless heroes—Hendrix, Dylan, Prince, Nas—what he is doing takes guts, but in truth, it’s the only way he knows how. “That’s what it’s about, be brave, do the thing you’re afraid to do. When I look at it now, the whole album is that, every song is that. There’s nothing but that. There’s some aspects of it that I probably wanted to hold back or edit and just didn’t. I think I’ve learned not to censor the things that make me uncomfortable. On ‘About A Flood’ I sing, ‘What if every tear in me comes out?’ That’s an as-not-hard a fucking thing as you can say. At the end of the day I have to say to myself, ‘I don’t care, I said it.’ I’m gonna say it. Every single song has an element of that, in the lyrics and also musically. Let it be what it is.”

Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers - On the seventh day of a ten-day retreat at a Vipassana meditation center outside the historic Indian city of Kolhapur, Phoebe Hunt intrinsically felt the life leave her namesake’s body on the other side of the world. The story of how she came to be known as Phoebe — a tale woven subtly into the whimsical threads and spiritual contradictions of Shanti’s Shadow, her new record — has the humor and richness of a Vedic myth. Her parents met at a yoga ashram in the Lower West Side of Manhattan in the Seventies, where they spent seven years as disciples of Guru Swami Satchidananda, famous in America for having been the opening speaker at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Years later, near the end of her pregnancy with Phoebe, her mother felt a strong compulsion to name her child Shanti, a Hindi word meaning peace. There was only one minor complication — she had already promised the child’s paternal grandmother, Phoebe, that she would be named after her. In a compromise, Hunt’s parents named their child Shanti Phoebe Hunt, but out of deference to the grandmother, she would grow up being called Phoebe. Years later, on the 2016 trip that would inspire the creation of Shanti’s Shadow, Hunt and her husband (and mandolin-playing bandmate) Dominick Leslie entered the meditation retreat in India, surrendered their possessions, and, with only a wool blanket given to them upon arrival, committed to a sequestered ten-day vow of silence. It was during that stint at the retreat that Grandma Phoebe passed away. Hunt remained in India with Leslie and a team of musicians who had joined the couple to study with master violinist and vocalist Kala Ramnath at an ashram outside the city of Pune. While there they found themselves spending as many as ten hours a day honing ragas, melodic structures that, in the Indian classical tradition, are believed to have the capacity to color the mind of an audience. The entire experience, ripe with creative efflorescence, formed the core of a bittersweet irony for Hunt. While in pursuit of her spiritual namesake — the shanti of peace, tranquility, creativity, and bliss — her familial namesake passed away. The generative idea at the heart of Shanti’s Shadow lies in the double sense of its title —  it refers, on the one hand, to the obverse of peace and tranquility, to the entangled ego at play in a world of knotty contradictions and selfish desires. In that sense, Shanti’s Shadow refers quite literally to the ego and the inescapable necessity of confronting it and claiming it as one’s own. It is also, in a literal sense, a reference to Shanti Phoebe Hunt the artist, to her music’s quest to transcend creative limitations and give flight to her innermost voice. “Each of us, no matter who we are, has a shadow side, a realm of our being associated in many traditions with the ego or the self,” Phoebe says. “Though what I create may have its roots in my soul, it first has to pass through the filter of my body and ego before it finds a place in the world. Knowing that, my goal for this album was to be as vulnerable and raw as possible in order to share my shadow.” That vulnerability is apparent throughout the record on tracks like “Pink and Blue,” a song Hunt wrote while traveling through India. During the daily ten-hour meditations at the Vipassana center outside Kolhapur, the song’s mystical celestial images and lyrics continually sought refuge in her mind, when she was supposed to be clearing it of all thoughts. At the end of the retreat, after meeting up with her friends and fellow musicians to learn about Indian classical music under the tutelage of Kala Ramnath, she wrote the instrumental part of the song and incorporated her lyrics with the rhythmic and melodic concepts she was studying. “I like to pick at my wounds until they bleed / Take in the moon on a bended knee” she sings in the song’s opening verse, a tender declaration of purpose for the album. On “Just for Tonight,” an elegiac waltz about the nature of forgiveness, Hunt’s luminous vocals melt away the song’s carapace of doubt and regret: “Let the stillness in you / Clear the shadows in me / Let me look through your eyes / And see nothing but peace.” Written beside a river at  RockyGrass  Festival in Lyons, CO  the song sprang from a painful personal experience, a wound that the song’s creation helped to heal. On “Frolic of the Bees,” the album’s shimmering lead track, the notion of vulnerability is reimagined as a blissed-out invitation to community. The song begins with the hypnotically enticing mandolin of Dominick Leslie, followed by Hunt’s crystalline call to whomever has ears to hear: “Come, all the wild ones / Come, all the thieves / Come, all you furry feathered friends / Where we are headed, no one can harm you / Anyone can stay until the end.” Depicting an ethereal gathering in the woods where all are welcome, the song is an uncanny love letter to inclusion and openness, to the wonder and spontaneous joy that are possible when we allow ourselves to encounter each other lovingly, free from shame or judgment. “To me,” Hunt says of the song, “it’s an expression of transformation and dynamic change, a kind of ceremony or transcendent event that’s only possible when people are free to be together authentically.” Hunt’s gorgeous fiddling entwines itself with Leslie’s virtuosic mandolin in a sublime encounter that amplifies the song’s central premise of communion. “You in the flames there / Burn through the night now,” Hunt sings, sounding out a shamanic command to the music, imploring it to sustain the joy. On an album that opens with the joyous incantation of “Frolic of the Bees,” it’s only fitting that the final track is a kind of quiet exhalation and reflective summation of the record’s major ideas. “I Really Love” opens with just that – Hunt’s soft exhalation – and proceeds as a slow recitation of a few concrete joys that make life worth living: “I really love putting the phone down and spacing out for an hour / Feeling the water touching my brow in the shower / Hearing the sound of piano downstairs / Watching the smoke disappear into the air / And singing…” The song is heartbreakingly beautiful in its specificity, and, rather than coming off like a hyper-personalized update of “My Favorite Things”, “I Really Love” sounds like a confession of the most profound sort. The song is so evocative because of the pathos inherent in Hunt’s voice, which she uses to sublimate the most everyday experiences into deeply personal, spiritual rites. That process, the sanctification of Hunt’s most private self, is what Shanti’s Shadow seeks to articulate.      

Rachel Sermanni The music of Folk-Noir Balladeer, Rachel Sermanni, has the flesh of Folk but, if you were to cut the skin, you’d find it pumped with contemporary, genre blended blood. Born under a rainbow, in Raigmore hospital, on the 7th November ’91, Rachel Sermanni has grown into a writer, musician and artist. In all that she creates, it seems, there remains a preservation of the pure and mystical, symbolic in that beam of fragmented light that shone, 25 sun-spun years ago. In 2011, Rachel Sermanni released her first EP, The Bothy Sessions, recorded quite spontaneously, deep in a Highland forest with 10 friends. Soon to follow came the studio EP, Black Currants. And on the 12th September 2012, Rachel’s debut Album, Under Mountains, was set free into the ether. Produced by Ian Grimble (Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Texas…) and recorded at Watercolour Studios nestled among big, purple hills in the West Highlands, Under Mountains was Rachel’s first full musical contribution to the world. And the world opened it’s doors. Following the release, Rachel tramped for 4 years across the globe. In this 4 years, on top of the non-stop touring, two more EP’s and a live album were born. First, The BoatShed Sessions, recorded in the same raw element and ethos of the Bothy Sessions. Then a studio recording, Everything Changes, produced by Alex Newport (Bloc Party, City and Colour, Death Cab for Cutie) in New York City. ‘Live in Dawson City’, recorded during a festival in the Yukon, came in early 2014, with the help of two fond accomplices: Jennifer Austin on piano and Jimi Troup at the sound desk. In March 2014, hiding in the sticks of Nova Scotia, Rachel sowed the seeds of her latest creation. Tied to The Moon is Rachel’s sophomore studio album. It was released in July 2015 to wide spread critical acclaim. The songs follow the theme of being ‘Like a Moth’; of being in darkness but drawn to the flame. To hear it is to take a walk in the moonlight. Rachel Sermanni’s creativity hasn’t burgeoned without help, of course. Friends, family members, peers, teachers and employees have always been supportive and often very wise in their advice or observations. And you’ll find that most of her astrological being resides in the 5th house, otherwise known as The House of Fun. Whether you adhere to horoscopic notions or not, it works as a succinct explanation in this case: Having so much planetary energy in the 5th House means that Creation equals Existence; Creative expression equals Happiness. Up Next: A digital EP of a special, soft and collaborative nature to be released mid July. The printing of a collection of Sonnets. The establishing of prints and original pieces of Rachel’s artwork to be sold online and on the road. And, of course, more tour. All Rachel Sermanni’s records have been released on Middle of Nowhere Recordings, a label she helped create with Robert Hicks who lives in beautiful Ullapool in the North West. MONrecordings is now an established label with a growing roster of artists.