Category: Anthony Da Costa

House Concerts, Covered: Anthony da Costa (May 22 @ 2:00)
With special guest Plume Giant! Plus: Meg Hutchinson coming June 25!

May 8th, 2011 — 05:07 pm

A Tree Falls Productions, our little house concert series here in rural Massachusetts, has grown since we first presented Danny Schmidt in our living room, and so has its reputation: both of the headline performers for our upcoming Spring/Summer season concerts came to us, making booking as easy as checking the calendar and saying “yes, please!” Our newest performing space, a restored hundred year old carriage house just up the road, has ample room for 50+, and for our increasingly infamous potluck meals, and we’re eager to fill the house, the better to support artists and fans alike.

As always, house concerts are legally private events, but if you’re reading this, you’re probably a friend already. If you’re interested in joining us for some great covers and originals, and live within driving distance of Monson, MA – that’s less than an hour from Worcester, Hartford, Northampton, and the Berkshires – contact me directly to have us save you a seat for the two shows listed below.

I’ve been a big fan of Anthony da Costa ever since he hit the Falcon Ridge mainstage at the tender age of 17, brought back by popular demand as the youngest ever winner of the Emerging Artist’s Showcase the year before. To have him contact me asking if we could fit him into the Spring schedule was a no-brainer; that he was hoping we could find room for his opening act, up-and-coming harmony-and-guitar trio Plume Giant, was just icing on the cake.

For those who need an introduction: Columbia College sophomore da Costa is a well-deserved darling of the festival and coffee house set, and of folk radio to boot: comparisons to Josh Ritter, Ryan Adams, and a young Dylan are both apt and somewhat of an understatement. His songwriting produces gems aplenty – lyrically wise, aching in performance, and stunning in impact – and his reputation for combining folk and americana in new ways while channeling old souls has marked him as a musician’s musician, cool and confident among a cadre of rising stars who straddle the old and new ways of folk and beyond.

At just 20 years old, Anthony already has eight records under his belt, including Bad Nights/Better Days, an amazing 2008 collaboration with dobro player Abbie Gardner of Red Molly, and his most recent effort, Not Afraid of Nothing, which Twangville cited as having “the lyrical quality of a John Prine album”. His next record, Secret Handshake, will represent a shift in sensibility: heavier on the production, and recorded live in the studio with a live rhythm section, the result is expected to be a bit more rock/pop/Americana, but if Dylan can do it, so can da Costa; even if you can’t make it to the show, I highly recommend supporting the project at Kickstarter, where a ten dollar bid will net you a pre-release digital download of the album, at least until the campaign closes at the end of the week.

As noted above, at his own request, Anthony will be playing with newly-formed “retro-folk” trio Plume Giant, whose tight three-part harmony work, led by guitar, violin, and viola, have already marked them fan favorites in the Northeast and beyond. The Hartford Advocate calls them “sweet, enthusiastic and wildly dedicated to their music”, and rumor has it they’ve been covering both The Strokes and Radiohead on tour – sounds like our kind of band. Here’s a few fave live covertunes to whet your appetite for both acts, appearing May 22nd at 3:00 pm in the carriage house at Lord Manor Bed & Breakfast.

In other Tree Falls Productions news: we packed the house for contemporary acoustic songwriter Meg Hutchinson back in the fall of 2009, and folks loved it so much they’re still talking about it. The lyrical alto and fan-favorite, who has won numerous prestigious competitions and songwriting awards in the US, Ireland and UK, has long been one of my favorite singer-songwriters, and we’re especially honored to be presenting her again on June 25th for an evening show. Here’s a Townes cover Meg performed for us last time she visited, and a Greg Brown cover from her recent winter-themed collaboration with Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton and Natalia Zukerman.

And speaking of Danny Schmidt, whose appearance in our living room kicked off our seasonal house concert series way back in March of 2009: the Austin-bred singer-songwriter recently released Man of Many Moons, his seventh album, and it’s got a studio version of Buckets of Rain on it that’s just achingly beautiful, crushing and torn and inimitably Danny, just like the live version he dug up for our living room audience. Here’s the pair – live and in studio – and a plug for Man of Many Moons, along with a reminder that we covered Danny and his life partner Carrie Elkin last summer, and that older, now-gone downloads are always available upon request.

House concerts tend to lead to lifelong fandom for a reason: the intimacy of a home setting has an effect both casual and powerful on the relationship between musician, listener, performance and song. It’s quite rewarding to host your own, too. If you or someone you know is interested in bringing an artist into your home, and you think you’d be able and willing to round up a dozen or so friends and fellow audiophiles, let me know – I’d be happy to help you find someone coming through your area. (Hint: check tour schedules for artists you like, paying close attention to any “down time” they might have near your area between tourdates.)

755 comments » | Anthony Da Costa, House Concerts

The State of Folk: A Post-Fest Preamble Plus EXCLUSIVE live Beatles covers from Falcon Ridge 08!

July 30th, 2008 — 10:08 am

Gee, but it’s great to be back home. And bearing gifts, including an exclusive live Beatles tribute concert, recorded this past Friday in a sunny field in Hillsdale, NY, which you’ll find just down below.

But first, the weather report:

Regular readers may remember that I’d hoped to have a Utah Phillips tribute set to share today. Unfortunately, a freak hurricane-force thunder-and-hailstorm and torrential downpour mid-afternoon on Sunday brought several major event-sized tents down, flooding roads and washing away tentsites, soaking sound equipment, and generally turning the encampment into something just shy of a post-apocalyptic landscape, bringing an early end to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival just a few hours before that eagerly awaited set could take place.

Here’s a video taken from the storm (by Coriform). If you look to the left as the camera pans, you’ll see a golf cart parked in front of a white lump — that lump is actually the flattened remains of the site crew/ice/information tent, which collapsed on me and a couple of dozen others in high wind and heavy lightning, driving us out into the hailstorm. Scary. You can also read first-hand accounts from multiple festgoers at this livejournal thread.

It is, genuinely, a miracle that no one was seriously hurt, and a tribute to all the site organizers and volunteers that we managed to get everyone out safely, and with their sense of humor fully intact. And it says what it needs to, I think, that I’m already looking forward to next year’s fest.

And now, the news: something big is happening to folk music. Despite the rocky ending, spending time at both a major bluegrass festival and a major folk festival in rapid succession over the past two weeks provided no small insight into the ways in which the musical landscape is changing, and why. I saw and heard plenty which helped me understand why many folk bloggers have recently started “going bluegrass”, for example…and plenty, too, which shed light on the funny relationship between americana and alt-country and indie music and other folk forms, something which we have spent no small amount of time describing over our few months here at Cover Lay Down.

More broadly, a look at label-run merch tables, and at other festival and coffeehouse line-ups via fest-posted programs and tour schedules, provided a decent sense of the full circuit — since who’s recording, who’s touring, and who’s headlining, is a pretty good indicator of what people are going to perceive as the core of currency in folk when the festival season dries up in late Autumn. I’ve fallen in love with the work of multiple newcomers, garnered new respect for a few more familiar faces I had previously underestimated, and decided that I still do like the narrative-laden one voice, one guitar singer-songwriter folk music which has, for the last few decades, been at the core of American folk, even if it is no longer so central as to be definitive.

In trying to identify this shift, I am especially indebted to fellow ‘casters and fans, promoters and musicians, who took the time to help me groupthink the modern folkworld, most especially Kristin Andreassen (of Uncle Earl and Sometymes Why), Lindsay Mac, and Joe Crookston, all of whom made time to chat with me about the state of music and the music business from the performer and songwriter’s perspective. You’ll hear those names come up again as, over the next few weeks, we use our continued journey together here at Cover Lay Down as a platform for exploring the current state of folk music, and how covers can help us both understand and anticipate the near future of folk.

Right now, thought, I’m still a bit shaken from the storm and its aftermath. So while I try to organize my thoughts a bit, here’s the majority of the Beatles tribute workshop, taped by yours truly on a little iPod with Belkin voice-recorder attachment from the foot of the Falcon Ridge workshop stage late Friday afternoon. I haven’t trimmed the tracks yet, so intros may be a bit long…but if you want to get a sense of what it was like to be there in the moment, this is about as good as it gets.

I’ve starred my favorites, for those who just want a sample: Anthony da Costa’s gorgeous, torn rendition of I’m Looking Through You; Joe Crookston’s mystical banjo-led take on Norwegian Wood; Randall Williams’ powerful, soaring version of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. I’d have starred Lindsay Mac’s incredible rendition of Blackbird, too, if the bass notes of her cello had not fuzzed out my admittedly low-tech recording; I’ve included her live take here anyway, as a teaser, but keep an eye open for Lindsay’s upcoming sophomore album (release date Sept. ’08) for what promises to be a beautiful, pristine version of the song.

Beatles Tribute Workshop
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, July 2008

Thanks to all my guest posters, who shared such powerful words, perspectives, and song in my absence; it’s a truly wonderful thing to come home and find the place in better shape than you left it. We’ll be back Sunday with the first of several subgenre- and artist-focused posts from this year’s festbest and brightest.

958 comments » | Anthony Da Costa, Festival Coverfolk, Gandalf Murphy, Joe Crookston, Lindsay Mac, Nerissa and Katryna Nields, Randall Williams, The Beatles, The Strangelings, Tracy Grammer