September 21, 2022
When History Calls
Writing to you from the Gold Hill General Store in Gold Hill, Colorado. Son of Town Hall finished up our Southwest run of shows at here last night at the historic Gold Hill Inn. Today I’m having an espresso and an incredible fig and goat cheese croissant with my old friend Arlo and then driving back to Santa Fe. My partner, Ben, a.k.a. George Ulysses Brown, took off last night for Denver and now flies back to London. The accommodations were a bit too rustic for his British blood. I think it was when our host told us that we should probably key lock the door to the off-grid cabin because of how many bear are in the area. I had one of the better sleeps of recent memory with the temperatures dropping into the high 30s and the creek rushing by. True, every once in a while, a loud sound of branches breaking caused some mild alarm, but my body was intact when I awoke with the birds.
I wanted to thank all of you who came out to see this show over the past couple weeks. I know for some it’s a leap of faith to follow a new project. And for some of you, the theatrics may not be your bag. Maybe part of what you like in what I normally do is the sincerity, and so seeing me in a top hat performing under a different name kind of runs counter to that. I get it. But in an odd way, I think there is an honesty in Son of Town Hall that is harder to achieve without the artifice. Obviously there’s the absurd conceit that we are traveling the world by a junk raft of our own making. But somehow the costumes and the frame allows me to speak and write about the human condition in a more direct way than I might without the device. So it’s true that the songs might be more metaphoric and pull from imagery that is at a remove from my own experiences. But the message and meaning is very real for me. It also feels like the natural progression for me from writing books that go along with my albums to, in a sense, acting out the stories I am singing about. And our project that we are working on now–a podcast in the style of old radio theater with an original song for each episode–is in some sense where all of my creative life has been unknowingly aiming toward all along. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
And that’s not to mention the harmony. I have always loved to sing. But there is magic in harmony. It is up there with the highest forms of human connection, I believe. It requires a kind of listening, of adapting, of submitting, of teamwork that is very rare and very special. It is strange that Ben and my voices blend so well. We sound nothing alike when singing solo. Our tones, our timbre, our accents are all completely different. And yet there are many times when listening back to something that I can’t tell which part I sang.
This all to say thanks for giving the project a chance. And if you haven’t heard us yet, I hope you’ll come out when we’re on the East Coast after Thanksgiving. We play Boston, New York, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, and Tallahassee. All info on the Tour Page.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge what has been so much on the mind of the world of late, that is the passing of Elizabeth the II. It’s obviously caused a lot of controversy on the socials. But another beauty of Son of Town Hall is our ability to answer history’s call in a way that manages to be both sincere and ironic. Hence, when we heard the news in the Austin home of Phil Collins, we immediately got to writing a tribute, which I hope feels fitting to those who loved her and, maybe can be heard as a queer love song for those who didn’t. You can listen to it now on Spotify or watch our performance below recorded at The Kitchen Sink.
That’s it for now. Fall is about to break. Tomorrow is my birthday. And though there is great suffering and sadness in most corners of this world of ours, there is still blazing beauty and heartbreaking acts of goodness.