Thursday, February 16, 2012


There was a radio DJ on KISU at Idaho State University that had a surprisingly good taste in music for Pocatello.  It was the only place on the dial where a college kid could hear Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco, and Whiskeytown.  He also managed to siphon some money from the university to get a handful of decent bands to come play.  Early in the spring of 2002, he brought in Pedro The Lion.  There might have been 20 people at the show, which started about 3 hours later than scheduled for unknown reasons*.  Opening for Pedro The Lion was TW Walsh followed by Damien Jurado.  Jurado was playing with Gathered In Song at the time and he, along with anyone else who could play an instrument, became the backing band for David Bazan that night.  Aside from the extremely off-putting attitude from Bazan**, the one thing I distincly remember was how good Damien Jurado was. 

It was 4 years until I would see Jurado play again.  This time it was with another group of Seattle post-grunge folk rockers; Rocky Votolato and J Tillman.  Tillman opened with what I thought was a very depressing set and I was seriously worried he was going to take his life behind the venue before the night was over.  Then it was Jurado's turn and I couldn't wait to hear where his songs had gone since the first time I saw him.  The set was great and somewhere towards the end they played a song called "Gillian Was A Horse."  There have been a few moments in my life where I was completely overwhelmed by the power of a song.  This song was one of those moments.  The entire room seemed to stop.  Along the side of the stage all the musicians playing that night and the tour crew were standing next to each other singing along. 

It would be 2 more years before a recording of that song made it on a Jurado record, but I would have a chance to hear it again live.  This time it had been reinvented as a more upbeat tune.  It was during a tour when he opened for Okkervil River in the summer of 2007.  Once again he was the opener for a band getting much more attention than he did, and probably more attention than they deserved.  But that didn't matter to him as he proceded to destroy the audience that was thin do to a late-arriving crowd.  I'm pretty sure nobody in the audience noticed the lack of a full house, as we were all drawn into his songs.  He quietly finished, packed up, and disappeared out of the venue. 

Two fantastic albums and one fantastic forthcoming album later, he seems to be getting the due he deserves.  The Seattle Times has put together a series of covers by other prominent northwestern musicians and it is simply fantastic.  The forthcoming album, Maraqopa, is garnering buzz and praise like no Jurado album before.  There hasn't been a Top Ten Damien Jurado Moments list as a lead story in Rolling Stone, nor has Damien-sanity topped the Twitter Trending Charts.  But after years of putting in the work and going largely unnoticed, Damien Jurado seems to be getting his just due.

*Bazan claimed that they had gotten lost.  I'm guessing they wanted to blow off the show and were halfway to Salt Lake City before Damien Jurado made them turn around and honor the commitment.

**I was probably a little oversensitive at the time.  But Bazan did say they were only stopping in Pocatello for the show because it was guaranteed money.  I respect his honesty now, but at the time it made me hate all things Bazan and I sold my Pedro albums the next day to some used CD store.  Okay, I was very oversensitive.  It took me nearly 10 years, and two great solo albums, to come back around on Bazan.

No comments: