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(L-r) Pete Christiansen, Jillian Rae, Jeremy Messersmith, Ananda Bates, Doug Collins, Katy Vernon, and Jim Walsh. (Photo by John Soshnik.)

The Mad Ripple Hootenanny This Week: “This is a brand new song…”

May 17, 2015

Dear Good People,

If you’re like me, some of the most exciting words in the English language are when a songwriter says, “This is a new song, and this is the first time I’ve played it.”

That’s as raw as it gets, if you ask me, and I knew going into this week’s Mad Ripple Hootenanny that I had a new song I wanted sing, a really quiet heartfelt love song, and I fully admit, as I did before debuting it Thursday at Harriet Brewing, that I was terrified to play it in that chatty bar that night.

But play it I did, survive it I did, and then my fellow songwriters followed suit over the course of that first round with their own first-time songs, all stellar and all delivered like pros, and for me that’s a wonderful part of the Hoot specifically and live music in general: We the listeners can be gifted with a new unrecorded song that we may never hear again. I can recall songs I heard at the Hoot over the years that I heard once that night and never again, because they’ve never been recorded. Imagine that, in these instantly documented times.

For example, last Thursday Jeremy Messersmith played for the first time a song he recently wrote with Dan Wilson, “Once You Get To Know Us,” and I’ve been hankering to hear it ever since. It’s one of those wise and weary pop classics, as sung from the voice of an earthling trying to convince a kinder and gentler alien race that despite all our foibles and faults, we human beings and our fucked-up planet are actually pretty swell… once you get to know us.

Alas, save for this Twitter video, I can’t relive it and at the moment I’m relishing the sweet anticipation and mystery that only comes with an unscratchable aural itch, and I’m looking forward to the day I can hear what Jeremy does with it in the studio. Which is a very strange and old-school notion, the idea that now a song lives exclusively in my memory and imagination, not online or in my music collection, and I can’t simply dial it up and play it until I’ve had my fill. In years to come, I’ll remember where I was the first time I heard “Once You Get To Know Us,” and how it lifted everyone in the room upon that first maiden voyage…

Speaking of which, it was such an amazing MRH Thursday, with Jeremy, Katy Vernon, Doug Collins, Ananda Bates, and Jillian Rae. It was rainy and messy and elegant and fun as hell. We had some great songs and collaborations and severe technical difficulties with the PA and some other mini-dramas that have been sussed out, but in the end the music won out and we all walked out of there better off for being together. Here’s a cool video David Tanner shot of Jeremy’s tune “Ghost” that captures the spirit of the night.

Gearing up for Thursday, this week we’ve got Nashville-by-Northfield thrush Anna Marie Mitchell, Steve Diedrich and Banjo Lizzy Heinecke (of Buzzrique fame) and Jonathan Delehanty, who wowed the Strib’s Jon Bream at the first hoot he played back in 2006 at Java Jack’s. Come if you can, and do be sure to listen up for a few songs you might never hear again…

Love,
Jim

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