December 08, 2013

Francis Dunnery House Concert

Not what I expected. Not what I expected at all.

My friend Andrea (and her husband Charlie) hosted a social weekend - a blow out holiday party last night (mostly her neighbors and co-workers, a handful of friends from the yoga world, and the local indie fave Little Ugly, who reportedly got shut down early by the WH cops....). Today, she had invited me over for a house concert with a "singer-songwriter and story-teller", by the name of Francis Dunnery.

Now, having been a folkie (fan, musician, festival crew) for nearly 25 years, I figured I was in for some old chestnuts, some New England story-telling, something a little rustic, a little crunchy, a little earnest. You know - the meat and potatoes of every open mic and coffeehouse from Maine to Philly. I've listened politely to scores of such performers over the years, and I'm always happy to pick out a gem of a song from an evening, or rarer, discover an artist that I'd want to listen to again.

Well, I figured wrong. Francis Dunnery is not that kind of musician. Rather, he is a spiritual seeker and wise man who spent a few years fronting the art-prog-blues-fusion band It Bites, before hitting the wall of hedonistic rock n' roll lifestyle, and changing his life.

His Wikipedia page is seeded with words that resonate - addiction, recovery (not that unusual, given the music business), but then horse whisperer, carpentry, astrology, Jungian psychology. Francis Dunnery has done a hell of a lot of work.And it shows. His house concert this evening is accurately described by him (as quoted by Wikipedia) as: 
"(showing up) as a friend — you can't show up as a rock dude or something — and it’s just me and my acoustic guitar, no amplification, singing my songs and holding a 90-minute lecture on the human condition. I sing songs and tell stories of my life. It’s not a party; it’s more like going to church, but church with swearing!... (There is) an exchange of energy that I call a 'jacuzzi'. At the end of 90 minutes, everybody has dropped their ego. They don't even realise that has happened, but they have gradually taken off their clothes and gone into that energetic jacuzzi together. Something like that is a lot harder to achieve in a rock music arena."
And yeah, it was all that and more. By the end of the evening, we were talking deep yoga concepts - letting go of ego, being in the present moment. It was as if someone stepped out of an enlightenment intensive and happened to pick up a guitar on the way home. Here's a sample of today:

So impressed, I picked up three disks (which he barely seemed to want to take money for) - 2001's "Man", 2013's "Frankenstein Monster" and a 2008 DVD (recorded in 2001 or thereabouts) called "In the Garden of Mystic Lovers" I'm looking forward to spending some time listening and watching.....

Did I expect to get my spirit buzzed up this evening? No, I did not - I was probably going to spend the evening on the couch or cleaning bathrooms, but for Andrea's text this afternoon. But I did go. And it was pretty inspiring, pretty enlightening, pretty wonderful. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you got to experience this. I became a huge fan of his this year and at some point want to host a house concert.

He is amazing.