March 3, 2013
To be honest, I hadn't even heard of Damien Jurado, who was wrangled by Britt Govea of (((folkYEAH!))) to come to Big Sur for a Saturday evening show at the Henry Miller Library. This wasn't just my first time listening to Jurado's music, but also my first indoor concert at the HML. It was packed with the 40+ who purchased tickets, plus the few of us who were helping out. The tiny stage was set up in front of the daytime entrance to the library's bookstore, and the soft lamplight and flickering of candles somehow made sitting so close to everyone feel comfortable. Apparently, 10-15 more could have fit into the library, though I can't imagine how.
The show's vibe was so laid back that afterwards, when attendees were hanging out on the redwood guarded deck chatting with Jurado, I had to track down his very amiable girlfriend, Liz, to ask if they brought CD's to sell. She walked me over to a plastic bin filled with merchandise, which they didn't bother unpacking, and I think I was their only sale of the evening. At $10 an album I gave her a $20 asking for her two favorites, and she sent me off with Maraqopa and Saint Bartlett, his two latest studio albums (which I enjoyed listening to while writing this review).
All Jurado took on stage was a 6-string and 12-string guitar, both acoustic. His guitars weren't amplified, he sang without a microphone, and as he said, "the way you guys get to hear me tonight, is how I hear myself when I play at home." While he played, no one moved a muscle or even dared sneezing.
He played works-in-progress only weeks old (which may or may not make it to his next album, he said) and songs from both CD's I purchased. The two songs he performed that stood out for me were "Arkansas" and "Rachel and Cali," both off Saint Bartlett. He played them with a delicate touch and sang beautifully; the last line from "Rachel and Cali": "A friend is only a lover you're not committed to" punctuated not only the heartfelt angst in the song but seemed to smack me over the head at which point I knew I'd walk away a fan of Jurado's work.