Steve Gunn

(((folkYEAH!))) Presents

Steve Gunn

Sachiko Kanenobu

Sat · February 16, 2019

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

$18.00

This event is all ages

Steve Gunn
Steve Gunn
Steve Gunn - The Unseen In Between (Matador Records)

For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one the American music’s most pivotal figures - conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record, releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile, and Michael Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced). Gunn is known for telling other people's stories, but on his breakthrough fourth album, The Unseen In Between, he explores his own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date. The lyrics evoke voyages, tempests (actual and emotional), and a rich cast of characters met along the way -- the work of an artist finding a place of calm in the midst of a storm. Produced by frequent collaborator James Elkington and engineered by Daniel Schlett, the immaculately recorded Unseen forces a reassessment of Gunn’s standing in the pantheon of the era’s great songwriters.

Getting to The Unseen In Between itself was not easy for Gunn. In the summer of 2016, Gunn released Eyes On The Lines, his winning and elliptical debut for Matador. It should have been a triumphant moment, but exactly two weeks later, Gunn’s father and namesake died following a two-year struggle with cancer. During his sickness, he and his son had connected as never before, listening to one another’s experiences and understanding one another’s perspectives; they became not father and son but real friends.

This experience yielded the emotional centerpiece of the album. “Stonehurst Cowboy” is a duet for Gunn’s raw acoustic guitar and spare basslines by Bob Dylan's musical director Tony Garnier, whose featured throughout the album. The song distills the lessons Gunn learned from his father and it is a solemn but tender remembrance, a tribute to his father’s reputation as a tough, wise, and witty guy from far west Philadelphia.

A sense of musical renewal and emotional complexity fits the new songs perfectly; “Luciano” seems to be about the chemistry between a bodega owner and his cat, an unspoken romance of gentle obedience and quiet gestures. But Gunn peers below the relationship’s surface and wonders about the owner's lonely future once the cat is gone, a devastating meditation wrapped in soft strings. And then there’s “Vagabond,” Gunn’s graceful attempt to humanize a rich cast of characters whose lives have gone astray, wanderers who live outside of society’s modern safety net, who pursue “a crooked dream” in spite of what the world expects. Supported by the perfect harmonies of Meg Baird, Gunn finds something lovely in the unloved.

Inspired by contemporary artist Walter De Maria’s Dia Art Foundation-affiliated installation of 400 stainless steel poles atop the high desert of New Mexico, “Lightning Field” considers what we get out of art when it doesn’t work, when lightning does not light up the night for visitors. Opener “New Moon" may begin in the mode of a deep track from Astral Weeks or Fred Neil, with its upright bass and sparse tremolo guitar. But during the song’s final minutes, strings double the melody, and then the guitar rushes headlong, pulling ahead in a wave of ecstatic deliverance. It is a brief but liberating solo, an instant release of tension from the fraught scene Gunn has built, complemented by one of his most arresting vocal performances.

In a final contrast, “Morning is Mended” is an acoustic beauty so resplendent it ranks alongside Sandy Denny or Jackson C. Frank. Buoyed by a melody that sparkles like sunlight on still water, Gunn acknowledges the hardships around him, the feeling of being a “nothing sky,” and then moves forward into the world, walking tall into the fresh morning. The song is an apt encapsulation of The Unseen In Between, a gorgeously empathetic record that attempts to recognize the worries of the world and offer some timely assurance. It is a revelatory and redemptive set, offering the balm of understanding at a time when that seems in very short supply.
Sachiko Kanenobu
Sachiko Kanenobu
Discovered as an precocious 18 year old in Osaka, Sachiko was signed in 1968 to Japan’s first ever independent record company, URC (Underground Record Club), who changed Japan’s musical landscape irrevocably in the late 60s and early 70s with artists like Happy End, Folk Crusaders and Kenji Endo.

Recorded with Haruomi Hosono (Yellow Magic Orchestra, Happy End), Sachiko's debut album Misora (roughly translatable as Beautiful Sky) is a near-perfect folk masterpiece, earning her the distinction of being the first Japanese woman ever to release an album of her own songwriting, as well as the tag of "the Japanese Joni Mitchell".

But just a few months before Misora was released in 1972, Sachiko left Japan and secretly emigrated to America to marry music critic Paul Williams (Crawdaddy Magazine, Rolling Stone). She did not record again for almost a decade and didn’t release another album until 1992. Instead she settled with Williams in small-town California and raised two sons. Misora was released in her absence and promptly disappeared, without an artist to promote it.

World renowned science fiction author Philip K Dick, a Williams family friend, actually encouraged Sachiko to return to music in the early 80s. He was executive producer for a single recorded in 1981, but sadly died before he could realise his ambition to produce Sachiko’s comeback album. Still, Sachiko was inspired by his encouragement and reinvented herself with gusto as a ‘folk-punk’ singer, forming new band Culture Shock in the mid 80s.

Sachiko still performs to this day and since Misora was rediscovered by Japanese fans in the early 90s, has returned to her homeland many times to perform these songs to sold out audiences. Misora is now regarded by the NY Times and others as a landmark in Japanese musical history, and Sachiko is revered in Japan as a true underground folk pioneer.
Venue Information:
The Chapel
777 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA, 94110
http://www.thechapelsf.com