(Note: There are three videos of this show at the end of the review.)
Therapist-turned-folk singer William Fitzsimmons was absolutely terrific Sunday night at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom in Bend, thanks to a whole bunch of people.
Thanks to Fitzsimmons, certainly. And Jake Phillips and Rosi Golan, who played and sang with him. And Silver Moon’s booker, Cassie Moore, who did all she could to ensure a quiet place for Fitzsimmons to play his stark, sad-sack tunes.
Oh, and the several dozen people who showed up to the show. Kudos to them, too.
People forget sometimes that a great live-music experience isn’t just the responsibility of the performing artist. The venue plays a role, as does the crowd.
If you haven’t heard his name, at least take a few minutes to listen to William Fitzsimmons’ music. The guy writes beautifully downcast songs in the same vein as Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam. I talked to Fitzsimmons earlier this week about his current state of mind after going through some dark times. Here’s an excerpt:
Last year, Fitzsimmons told National Public Radio he was looking forward to writing new material and moving on from that dark place in his life. Earlier this week … he said he’s currently working on songs for a new album, which he hopes to release next year.
As you might expect, the process has been refreshing.
“It’s a little different. It’s nice, because I’m in a different place in my life than I was a few years ago, fortunately,” Fitzsimmons said. “Things aren’t quite as dark or as morbid, so writing the songs … I don’t want to say it was fun, but it sure as hell was a lot more fun than it was before.”
Fitzsimmons has been unveiling those new songs at shows over the past month. He describes them not as happy, but hopeful.
“I decided I kind of wanted to write about things that were more in the line of healing and restoration, sort of the polar opposite of what I was writing about before,” he said. “So instead of things being destroyed, it was (about) things being mended and fixed and put back together. It feels good but it also feels right. It feels like it’s where my head has been.”
Plus: David Bromberg, Jena Rickards’ CD-release show, Emma Hill and Her Gentlemen Callers, David Jacobs-Strain, Five Pint Mary and the Bend Fire Pipe and Drum Band, and an early heads-up on High Street playing a show to benefit Sisters schools. Want more options? Check out The Bulletin’s complete music listing.
On Sunday, a folk singer named William Fitzsimmons will perform at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom in Bend. And you should must go.
Earlier this week, I had a chance to chat on the phone with Fitzsimmons, and he was one of the nicest and most forthright interviewees I’ve encountered in 10 years of writing for newspapers. The result of that chat will appear on Page 3 of tomorrow’s GO! Magazine, and I hope you’ll read it. I’ll post a link here on the blog.
Truth is, though, just about all you need to know about Fitzsimmons — about the music he makes, at least — you can find in his top four friends on MySpace. Check it:
MySpace. Still good for something.
Look at that. It’s like the Mt. Rushmore of hushed, heartsick indie-folk, equally dedicated to the gone-too-soon icons (at left) and the next-big-things (at right). Don’t get me wrong, I love three of those four artists — I don’t fully “get” Bon Iver, but I don’t hate it, either — but if you could sum up what Williams Fitzsimmons does, you couldn’t do much better than a glance at his closest MySpace buds.
Actually, I do have one minor quibble. If I could, I’d climb up on that Mt. Rushmore and chisel in the chiseled face of Sufjan Stevens, whose elegant chamber-folk-pop shares even more with Fitzsimmons’ songs than any of the artists above, and that’s saying something. It’s no wonder I’ve fallen head-over-heels for this guy’s music; if you go home and look at my computer, you’ll see that I’ve played more Sufjan Stevens over the past five years than any other artist.
Enough babbling. Here’s one of the best songs from “The Sparrow and The Crow,” Fitzsimmons’ painfully personal 2008 album based on his own divorce:
William Fitzsimmons and opener Rosi Golan play at 8 p.m. Sunday at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom (24 N.W. Greenwood Ave., Bend). Tickets are $12 plus fees in advance at BendTicket, and $15 at the door.