I’ve shot countless videos of musicians — be it in-studio performances, live concerts, or Tiny Desk Concerts. But one of the most fun things I’ve played a part in is NPR Music’s Field Recordings series. I was there from the get-go when my brilliant, wildly talented colleague and pal Mito Habe-Evans and I took two bands (David Wax Museum and Mountain Man) into the crumbling ruins of Fort Adams at the Newport Festival to play the first two videos that eventually became this series. And I got to take part here and there over the years since.
So it was a ton of fun to be brought back into the fold and work alongside the video team — Mito, Adam Wolffbrandt and Josh Rogasin — to shoot this video of Mac DeMarco. At his house that sits on the bay across from JFK airport in Far Rockaway, Queens. In his rowboat.
Continue reading Mac DeMarco Sings In A Rowboat
Amid the rumble of traffic, crowded streets, and general persistent din of big city life, it can be challenging to find a moment of calm in New York. So it seemed like a peculiar choice when the enigmatic singer-songwriter Bill Callahan said he was interested in playing in a community garden for a Field Recording video WNYC’s Soundcheck co-produced with NPR Music. You could easily envision Callahan’s plaintive music and deep, detached voice getting lost in that noisy clutter.
But in fact, the lush 6th & B Community Garden in the East Village was just the spot for Callahan’s intimate and eerily transfixing performance. Recording previously as Smog, and now simply under his own name, Callahan writes dark, frequently anguished songs inflected with a bleak sense of doom. And yet, there’s actually a surprisingly warm, pastoral quality to his words, and a comforting voice in his sly delivery.
Surrounded by a rich canopy of greenery, ornamented flower beds, and even a small pond full of turtles, Callahan quietly finger-picked “Small Plane,” a song from his new record Dream River (out Sept. 17). And while sounds from just outside the garden’s tall gates trickled in, all those distractions of the city just outside the gates melted away.
There’s no denying there’s a spiritual quality to the music of Anna von Hausswolff. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the Swedish singer and musician plays the pipe organ, an instrument that fills cavernous church sanctuaries and holy spaces with rich layers of sound. But it’s also her songs on this year’s superb record Ceremony, that take on an otherworldly transcendence mixing moody orchestrations with engrossing, almost poppy melodies.
So when Soundcheck had the opportunity to film von Hausswolff in New York City, as a co-production with NPR Music’s Field Recordings series it was only natural to seek out a pipe organ in a church that could accommodate. Filmed and recorded inside the spacious and regal Christ Church — a United Methodist church on Park Avenue — von Hausswolff’s rendition of “Funeral For My Future Children” is outright stunning.
Amidst the ornate decorations and glowing candles, the stained glass windows, and simply the sound of the of organ as it swelled and enveloped the entire room, von Hausswolff’s performance showcased the nuanced beauty of her voice and the epic power of the instrument.