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R. Garth Reflects On a Concert by The Civil Wars

Posted: Feb 06, 2011

Last night my friend and fellow writer Richard Garth (author of the Tales from Blue Springs series) attended a concert by the duo The Civil Wars. The concert was held at the WorkPlay Theatre near the University of Alabama Birmingham (Alabama). I asked Richard, who also happens to be a musician, if he would provide the Swampland audience with some musings about the concert. Keep watching Swampland for my review of The Civil Wars debut album Barton Hollow.

Richard wrote this comment on his Facebook page folowing  the concert: "They [The Civil Wars] ended with this Cohen song that I am presently melting over.... It was an education on the possibilities of the human voice. I had no idea what I was walking into...." 

Here is what R. Garth wrote about The Civil Wars----
As I write their harmonies echo in my brain pan: cracked on the head like King Arthur, I had never heard of The Civil Wars. My friends called with a spare ticket. With this winter’s woes, I had cabin fever and jumped at the chance just to go out and hear some music. And music it was:

Lucy Schwartz opened the show and the people’s ears to a voice that put curlicues on your curlicues. She has a genuine, honest heart that pours its pain and happiness into your ears like fresh mead into your goblet. I “gobbletted” it up.

 Smoke in the bar, and I saw a guy on the in-house TV screen tuning his guitars (7?) and thought… “OK, they’re professionals…. I better get back to our table.” I did just in time to hear the most superb balance of harmonies between a man and a woman since Cleopatra moaned, “Mark Antony!” You, too, are in denial if you haven’t heard this blend of vibrations feeding off of one another. Song after song they crescendo and crash like waves of pleasure in the simple craft of doing what they love: making music… surfing the sounds….(photo of The Civil Wars)

Joy teases and dances J.P. into a very well controlled and gifted guitar and voice. They both vary from falsetto to bass with amazing accuracy and grace. Joy is Joy Williams (aptly named!) and J.P., aside from being many of our friends’ initials, is John Paul White, a fellow Alabamian with two of my four favorite Beatles’ names in his, plus the irony of pure symbolism.

Meet these people. I wish I had. But then what do you say in front of those blessed with extra talent God throws your way to remind you of your possibilities? You flounder like a flounder telling them how wonderful they are and how you are so smart to have ears….. (They are so lucky I didn’t go backstage. Though I can’t think of two people I’d rather meet and thank for re-awakening me to the power and lure of the human voice. )

Where were we? The Civil Wars? Yes, I remember…. It’s only been three hours (generations?) now, and I think I may have to make an investment in some music for my baby to hear. It’s sexy. It’s smart. It fits my budget and makes me want to blend into some meaningful harmony….

Git yurself some!

-----R. Garth  02/05/11


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