Briar Rabbit at Schubas 9-5-2013

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Last night at Schubas I finally got the chance to see my friend Briar Rabbit perform live for the first time. I’m not sure how I’ve gone over a year without seeing him play, but it was well worth the wait. This show acted as the kick-off to promote the new album From Your Bones-though the record has been delayed, so this was deemed a “Single Release party.” I think he said it best when he put it this way: “What is a single release party? It’s when you planned on putting out a record but it got delayed and you’re already booked to play at Schubas.” We got to hear a bunch of new songs anyway, and even though it isn’t “officially” being released, there were copies to buy at the merch table.

Last winter I got to spend some time with Briar Rabbit at Handwritten Recording while he was doing a song for my Hasty Revelations project. It was the first time we’d met in person, and we got along like old pals. He ended up hanging around the studio for a while just talking about music and his personal philosophy on the music business. Rick and I both seemed to agree with most of his feelings, and I knew that I’d want to keep up on anything new that he might put out.

Last month saw the release of “So Long,” the first single off From Your Bones. I posted it here, but if you didn’t catch it, here’s a link. I really love the way he writes lyrics-it isn’t abstract like some writers are. When he’s singing about his heart, he lays it out plain and simple. He brings both the irreverence of Ben Folds and the emotional depth of Josh Ritter into his music.

I noticed when he was playing that everything that was going on around him seemed blocked out. There were three other guys on stage, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the man singing. He just has the kind of personality that commands attention. He held my interest all the way through. At the very end of the show he came up to perform a surprise encore that even he wasn’t prepared for. His cover of “Let’s Stay Together” wasn’t great, and relied heavily on the crowd singing with him. Somehow he managed to make that equally compelling.

My favorite song that he performed was a really old song of his called “Tread Lightly.” Maybe it’s because that one has been played the most, or the band knows it best, but it felt like every note landed perfectly. It helps that “Tread Lightly” is a really good song anyway.

Briar Rabbit spent most of August touring from one Goorin Bros. hat shop to the next, and now he’s off playing in bars and book stores and anywhere else that people appreciate good music. If you’re interested in checking him out, you can find all his upcoming tour dates here.

SET LIST
Company You Keep
Sleepwalking
Bothered No More
From Your Bones
The Coon
*Hit Me Baby One More TIme*
Lock Up Before You Leave
Crooked Teeth
Tread Lightly
So Long

Let’s Stay Together

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