Pin It
Favorite

Too Damn Dark To See 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he Blue Spark on Monday was a-swirl with its usual activity. People congregated in little pods around the longish bar, talking in their various cliques, never out of arm's reach of the next drink, their backs largely to the cramped corner stage.





Josh Hedlund takes his place, adjusts his lyrics sheet and starts to play "Small Town Hunger," a song he says he wrote in the midst of Sandpoint's winter doldrums. He wrote it in response, he says, to the sexual power-plays that are the result of too few beautiful people playing musical partners. "There were a lot of people showing me a lot of interest," he had said prior to getting onstage, "but at the same time taking great interest in my girlfriend." He concludes, "[This song] was to let them know my teeth are bared." Faced with a wall of backs at this casual open mic that he's decided to play in preparation for his first Spokane show, Hedlund's voice starts a bit unsteady and off the beat. The guitar part, though, is strong and Dylanesque, forcing his voice into step. Like his best songs, this is built around a series of emotional and vocal crescendos, and by the time he hits the song's quasi-chorus, he's at full steam.





"This is a pack of wolves I run with," he coos, "Hungry for love / and for truth and for love / and for truth and for love / and for all of the above." The last line ends early and gauzily. His voice quickly turns into a strangled growl: "But I've been sharpening my teeth."





The audience stirs. Bizarrely, a woman at the bar produces a shaker and begins to rattle out a casual percussive accompaniment.





There's a deep sense of shared history in Hedlund's work, though not necessarily first sources. Through the impressionistic warble of Devendra Banhart, he touches on T. Rex and Nick Drake. Through Conor Oberst's anger and vocal dynamics, he reaches back to Woody Guthrie's tales of hardship and Dust Bowl populism. He touches on the poetry and cadence of Dylan, the tactile lyricism of Neutral Milk Hotel. These aren't uneven musical fits, and this isn't mere mimicry. Hedlund has spent years assimilating the history of pop and folk into expressions of considerable personal power. Audiences love him for it.





"I told this guy I'd be quick," Hedlund said shyly after his first song, motioning vaguely to the group of Sandpointers he's come down with. He repeats the sentiment after his second, standing to leave. The barroom that had been a series of clusters is now entirely turned toward him. This is not how open-mic audiences normally behave. A kid near the front begs for another song, but Hedlund is already off the stage.





Josh Hedlund with the Shook Twins at Caterina Winery on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 8 pm. Tickets: $5. Call 328-5069.
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Class Act
  • Class Act

    Seeing through money differences can build relationships focused on fairness
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Don's Ultimate Con
  • Don's Ultimate Con

    Trail Mix: Trump's birther problems and Johnson's polls
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Transparent Motives
  • Transparent Motives

    One candidate's an open book; the other is shrouded in secrecy. Guess which one isn't transparent enough
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Chasing Whales
  • Chasing Whales

    Let's focus less on courting big companies and focus more on nurturing big ideas
    • Feb 5, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation