David Huckfelt (The Pines) + Field Report (solo)

Sat. Nov 24, 2018 at 7:30pm CST
19 and Over
33 days away
Price: $15.00
19 and Over
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Event Stats
33 days away
Price: $15.00
19 and Over
Event Description

with special guests Kelly Pardekooper





In the fall of 2017, David Huckfelt left behind the familiar—the comfort of his home in Minneapolis; the camaraderie of his critically acclaimed band, The Pines; the luxuries of heat, hot water, and electricity—and relocated to Isle Royale, America’s most remote and least visited national park in mighty Lake Superior. Six hours by boat off the Michigan coast, Isle Royale is the largest island in the world’s largest freshwater lake, an isolated stretch of wilderness seemingly forgotten by the 20th century (to say nothing of the 21st). There, as an Artist In Residence selected by the National Park Service, Huckfelt spent ten hours a day for two straight weeks writing in solitude, channeling the mysterious and lonesome island’s spirits into his stunning debut solo album, ‘Stranger Angels.’


“The island is surrounded by 300 smaller islands, decrepit lighthouses and abandoned mines, lined with shipwrecks, ghosts, and the stories of the northern Ojibway, fisherman, and early settlers,” Huckfelt reflects. “I brought a mountain of notebooks and poetry and history books with me”, says Huckfelt, “and for the first time in nearly a decade, I found the solitude, depth, range, danger, beauty, and inspiration to go all kinds of places in my writing that I hadn't had the space to visit before.  With a sense of place so strong, it was less like an anchor and more like a launching pad to free up and access all kinds of places from throughout my life. It’s easy to travel anywhere in your mind in that kind of solitude, your whole experience rises up from the deep.”


Indeed, the music is both transportive and reflective, focused inwards even as it draws on an abundance of outside influence. Hypnotic banjo and gentle acoustic guitar meet trippy public domain samples and shimmering soundscapes underneath Huckfelt’s stark, raw vocals as he wrestles with questions of fate and faith, responsibility and independence, connection and loss.  A thread of deep ecology runs through these songs, but not the cute bumper sticker kind, the gritty, “what-comes-next-if-we-don’t-change-our-ways” kind. “Isle Royale used to have fifty wolves in five packs…” Huckfelt says, “now there’s only one left. Cycles are cycles but it’s the height of pride to think we’re (humans) aren’t the major player.” The title track “Stranger Angels” brings this point home strongest, with the narrator longing for a place “where (he) won’t make the greedy richer”, and the fierce grip of climate change manifests in lyrics like “Wild mustangs starve in the hills outside Las Vegas… and the West is burning like a lake of fire.”  


But above and beyond conservation, “Stranger Angels” is a record about “thin places”, those spiritually charged places where heaven and earth seem to meet and the veil between the world we see and the mystical world beyond becomes transparent.  On the rollicking blues-carnival track “As Below, So Above” Huckfelt pays touching to tribute to his late grandmother who helped raise him in Iowa, not by writing about her, but to her, as a defiant elegy against death. A former theology student who once wrote and preached sermons in Cook County Jail in Chicago, Huckfelt has gone through the fire of the niceties and dogma of “heaven” and “god” and come out the other end with a worldview fiercely present, concrete and expansive.  “Stranger Angels as a title, to me, has a thousand references to what’s left after life and death and experience and loss and love burns off all the easy answers…” says Huckfelt. “The idea of god or spirit being hidden under the opposite of what we think we know, of ancestors and spirits visiting us, screaming in our ears all day long, but we miss it because it’s different, stranger than we expected… And the kindness we give and receive from strangers, the least, last and lost among us. Our cities are overflowing with strange angels, it’s such a mistake when we think we know which or who can offer us something, and which can’t.  Every spirit has something to give. Then, when I saw the night camera footage of the moose and wolves on Isle Royale, dancing in the moonlight and gracing the forest with their presence, I thought “stranger angels” indeed.”


The record also draws on deep wells of Native American tradition and spirituality, a life-long anchor for Huckfelt which has developed more fully through working with Native songwriters and poets like John Trudell, Quiltman, Keith Secola, Tom LaBlanc and more.   References to the healing and prophetic prayer-visions of indigenous thought and voices are everywhere on this record, including the chilling, epic, cosmic pow-wow closing track “Star Nation”, with the authoritative voice of American Indian Movement activist & singer Floyd Red Crow Westerman leading the way. Artfully weaving the historical, the ecological, and the personal into an elegant lyrical web, these songs contain layers of surprise and richness, as in the track “Everywind” with Huckfelt turning an imagining of the life of a woman named Everywind from a vintage photograph into a ballad in celebration of all women. The elegant “Still And Still Moving” sparkles like sunlight off the waters of Lake Superior as it ponders mortality and the impermanence of everything around us.  “False True Lover Blues” stands as a gut punch at the precise place where a broken heart starts to mend, while “You Get Got” starts with notes Huckfelt took of his grandparents talking in bed after sixty-four years of marriage, and travels in a country-waltz fashion into the political and the universal with some help from guest vocalist Erik Koskinen.


When it was time to record the songs from Isle Royale, Huckfelt again sought geographic isolation, working out of a 110-year-old farmhouse studio in Menomonie, Wisconsin. This time, however, he chose to surround himself with fellow artists, assembling a dream team of musicians including drummer/co-producer J.T. Bates (Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings), bassist Darin Gray (Tweedy, William Tyler), and guitarists Michael Rossetto, Erik Koskinen, and Jeremy Ylvisaker, cutting sixteen songs in just three days.  Very special guests rallied to Huckfelt’s side, including spectacular performances by Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath on “Heart, Wherever”, “Everywind” and “Stranger Angels”, Trampled By Turtles’ Dave Simonett singing harmony vocals on multiple tracks. Recorded and mixed by engineer-extraordinaire Adam Krinsky (Bellows Studio) the album captures the magic and spontaneity of a gifted band discovering the beauty and brilliance of the songs and each other all at once. Other stellar appearances include gospel-blues master Phil Cook on Hammond organ, while electronic musician and sample wizard Andrew Broder (Fog) haunts the tracks with the sparse, mercurial public domain samples of old-world Americana, as if these songs were coming through a Ham radio in an old ghost town.


‘Stranger Angels’ follows Huckfelt’s latest album with The Pines, 2016’s ‘Above The Prairie.’ Hailed by No Depression as “dazzling,” drawing the attention of Rolling Stone’s David Fricke who called The Pines “poignant stark country” and earning high praise in both the US and Europe, with Mojo calling it “their most beautiful yet” and Minnesota NPR station The Current raving that it “hits so close to the gut that it reminds us that they are truly a singular band.





There is no sweet spot upon our delicate balances, just cheap footing and heights that will make your eyes water. The wires are everywhere, strung over the infield of a racetrack, taut across our backyards, between skyscrapers and canyons, between people, or just positioned for us to get from one morning to that coming evening light, unhit, not discombobulated. It could be that a tiny word at a meal, or the faintest of looks over wine will topple us from down below, sending us reeling, arms whipping wildly through an air that’s dead set on ripping us right through the safety net, to splatter for fate’s janitor to clean out of the lawn or carpet.


Cold wars come in a few sizes, but the warm wars — the ones that burn and give off a fair amount of long stares and result in exasperation and quivering faces — are the ones that Christopher Porterfield of Field Report worries about on the Milwaukee, Wisconsin band’s third album, “Summertime Songs.” They’re suntanned and wind-swept. They’ve been crying and they’ve been drinking. These warm wars are the result of chaffing, of friction and boredom. They’re caused by everything and nothing at all, just guts deciding to act on a foggy and cowardly, oftentimes mistaken heart’s behalf. Some people give up and some people are given up on.


This is an album comprised of songs that are exactly what you think they might be if you’d assumed they would consist of all the nuance and cold shouldering, all of the behind closed doors dramatics and silences and all of the clusterfuckery that two people who used to love each other so madly all too often get to producing. There are no swimming pools and there’s no lemonade. There’s not even any sunblock, just the rawest of burns. There are no country club couples or tee times to deal with, but rather the kinds of nobodies we ourselves are and are surrounded by and we have to figure out how the work’s gonna get done, how we’re going to keep our clothes on, how we’re going to get someone to want to randomly take our clothes off or what can be said to put all of the pieces back together so that some form of happiness can return home.


The difference between “Summertime Songs” — recorded at Wire & Vice, in the same Milwaukee neighborhood where 3/4ths of the band resides — and 2014’s brilliantly autumnal feeling “Marigolden” and 2012’s more chilly and intense self-titled record is that we hear Porterfield at his most honed and pure. He’s more direct and effective with his writing, and in doing so, the scene is even more expertly set. It’s sharper and more captivating. The character sketches that he creates with these mostly toasty and soaring hooks gluing them together are robust and stark like a Hemingway line, but with that keen eye for all of the subtle details that always made up the sad couples in Raymond Carver’s stories.


Every song for this album was written before the 2016 presidential election, all while Porterfield was anxious about the arrival of he and his wife’s first child, but it’s easy to multi-purpose some of those anxious moments for the white-knuckler that the country’s been experiencing for over a year now. He plies us with songs about marital strife and letting that someone slip away (or watching them voluntarily pack up everything they have and get the hell out), but they’re also vehicles for a dialogue about the fragility of America and many of the ideals that it has supposedly stood or fought for for so long.


There’s a lot of that fragility to sort through these days as many of us grapple with which version of panicky cold sweat we’re dealing with each day. But where these stories take us is quite personal and not at all a conversation about all that we can’t control. These stories remind us of all that we do or did control that WE let slip away. It’s our fault usually, and we KNOW it.


Porterfield shares with us many episodes involving his problematic former days as a heavy drinker and we see those boozing buddies here, up to those old, head-banging, creme de menthe breath-reeking, tree-plowing tricks. There are the copouts and the scapegoats and the promises for change. Elsewhere, there are lovers and best friends who have been brought to places in their relationships through recklessness and abandon, blindly and selfishly finding that other body that they thought they wanted or needed more, but both parties knew all about that bag that one had packed, waiting in the closet. There’s one foot in and one foot out so often that it seems like normality. In all circumstances here, there’s a body calling for that other body not to leave, just not to leave it.


Field Report will grab you by the short hairs and make you see yourself. It will get you close enough to smell your salt and you’ll know immediately that it’s your salt, your grime — the detritus of you. You’ll get up to that mirror and you’ll feel your breath bouncing back, hot and present, slapping you invisibly, eerily with real texture and a physicality, like it could push you back a couple inches with the next attack. You’ll recognize it and this time, you can dance and thrash through it to get out to the other end. There’s a voyeur in our midst, but they’re performance notes, constructive and hopeful, as if there’s an eye toward the remake or the redo. We’ve been watched closely and the police may have even been dialed once, but there could be something salvageable in all of our jettisoned or banged up arrangements, if only we could find our way through this quiet jitters and past our rotten tendencies to give in so easily when everything gets a little hard.




Iowa City native Kelly Pardekooper is an Americana/Rock Singer-Songwriter. He put down roots in Indianapolis in 2012 after stints in Nashville, Madison and Los Angeles. He has released nine albums and toured all over the US and Europe, showcasing his songs everywhere from SXSW in Austin to the Take Root Festival in Holland. Television song credits include True Blood, Justified, Blue Bloods, Sons of Anarchy, Cold Case, Chicago Fire, Longmire etc. Film credits include Vengeance (Nicolas Cage), April Moon and Sex in the USA. Kelly Pardekooper writes songs and tries to treat people well!



 


A roots musician who writes some of the sweetest blues-infused, country-fied, American rock music of our time. No Depression

While you might not know the name, you most likely have been among the millions of people who have heard his songs, thanks to shows like True Blood, Sons of Anarchy and Justified. No Depression


Kelly’s bad-ass, roots music was a perfect fit for True Blood! - Gary Calamar, True Blood Music Supervisor


The reason Kelly’s music appeals to me is a visceral one. You can actually feel the pain and struggle as well as the self reflection in his music. Not unlike a great painting, Kelly’s music is something that grabs you by the chest and says LISTEN TO ME. - Bob Mair, Black Toast Music Publisher


Whether he’s doing the indie rock thing or the country rock thing or the singer/songwriter thing, Kelly Pardekooper writes lyrics that ring so authentic and true it gives you goosebumps and his latest album, Milk In Sunshine is his best yet. - Americana Music Show


Even though Milk in Sunshine spans his whole recorded career, the album is remarkably balanced without dramatic swings in production or performance. It’s a testament to the fact that honesty begets timelessness. - Little Village




 


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Tickets
Reserve Tickets
General Admission $15.00
Venue Details
The Mill 120 East Burlington Street
Iowa City, IA 52240