There are a few key reasons why I want to be a music writer. Apart from chasing that ever allusive exciting life that everyone bangs on about, for me, it’s really about spending time with, and getting to know amazing musicians and sharing my experiences with those who are as passionate about independent artists as I am. Last Saturday night I was privileged enough to be invited to an event which for me, really epitomises the reasons why I want to be a music writer. An audience of around 30 people gathered in Sam Hodgkin’s lounge room for what would be “The Silent House Show”, with two amazing intimate performances by Byren Sawell and Jason Lowe.
For anyone that knows me, especially anyone that has listened to music with me before, knows I’m a big fan of lyrics. Sometimes there are only things you can say when they are draped in melody, or disguised by the subtleties of an acoustic guitar, so to be given a lyrical keepsake upon arrival really set the bar high for me in terms of the evening I was going to be having. Having never heard Byren or Jason perform live, I was both excited and nervous to see them play, but as I entered the lounge room, grabbed a seat on a couch gazed around the beautiful room, I was honestly taken aback. Tiny lights hung from every ceiling beam, pillows filled the floor and as I, and my fellow music lovers found their seats I knew I was in for something spectacular.
Byren, a soft spoken gentlemen, played his recently released EP “In Solitude Least Alone” in it’s entirety. Every track seemed to have this majestic sense of flow to it, a wonderful story woven between the sound of his guitar. His voice is unique, rich and so full of something that I couldn’t wait to find out more about. Byren spoke of ‘running away’ to North Queensland, and despite never intending to release an album, was seemingly inspired by the tropics to which I am personally thankful.
Track wise, “See you on the flip side” was an absolute standout and so very relatable. A fast pasted tack to which Byren brought so much energy and gusto it appeared that he was honestly reliving the very second when he allowed spontaneity and creativity to be his driving force. “Dust” got the entire room involved with a chorus of the final phase “say what you want, take what you need to” resonating with an entire room of music lovers. It was Byren’s final track “Geist” however, that really exemplified the intimate concert experience, a truly beautiful track written with so much feeling that re-listening to it now it still leaves me with a heavy heart “digging holes in the snow”.
A short intermission saw one lucky punter take home a physical copy of Byren’s EP, to which I can safely say she was very pleased with. Ok you’re right, it was me. And I am both lucky and pleased, it’s an amazing EP.
Jason Lowe… Writing this experience piece nearly a week later I am still taken aback by his seemingly effortless ability to make a tiny room feel so open and rich with wonderment. For such a soft spoken artist and a man of so little words, his self titled album (released back in 2012) is so rich and full of nomadic wonder, he is a truly brilliant song writer. Switching from acoustic guitar, to “messing about on the keys” to a custom made ‘runabout’ slide guitar, Jason performed his first album in full, telling of his seemingly ‘lost years’ as a starving artist and braving the ever long winter of Canada.
It’s difficult to really pinpoint a standout track, however; “When the river parts” definitely struck a chord with the audience as the tale of Jason’s heartbreak was poured out through haunting chords of the slide guitar. Jason spoke of his influences, particularly Gillian Welch and Bob Dylan and his appreciation for the true Americana era. Those particular influences were clearly evident throughout not only his individual songs, but his uncanny ability to communicate through layered heartbreak, pain and most importantly, his love and respect for the world around him.
Jason is a true artist, someone who is so immersed in his sense of self as a creative individual which really makes for a truly addictive audience experience. His words were never forcibly thrust upon you, rather they were presented as a passive experience of song and sound, leaving deeper meaning open to the listeners interpretation. The ideas and visions grew and changed as the performance progressed, but the integrity of creative wonderment remained forever intact.
The “Silent House Show” was a truly wonderful experience, and as a music lover, iI really hope that similar events are available in the future, as I will be forever chasing that intimate gig high.
Sensing time almost stop for a brief moment during these performances was an experience I will be happily keeping in my back pocket to assist with escaping the hustle and bustle of that life we do lead.
You can find (and purchase) Byren’s music here: https://byren.bandcamp.com/releases
and follow him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ByrenOfficial/?fref=ts
You can find (and purchase) Jason’s music here: https://jasonlowe.bandcamp.com/?undefined=
and follow him on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/jason.lowe.710?fref=ts
Support your local artists, I mean really support them. Type “newcastle” into Triple J Unearthed or Bandcamp. Find their gigs. Sit in the front row when they play to a crowd of three people in a place with sticky floors and where the average age is 65 and over. Tell them you love their music, tell your friends your love their music. Independent artists need this community, and once you start seeking all the wonderful musicians in this glorious town of ours, you’ll discover that you need it too.