Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Calvin College Festival of Faith and Music

Let me put in a plug for the upcoming (March 30th - 31st) Festival of Faith and Music at Calvin College. The 2005 conference was an absolute blast, a wonderful, thought-provoking time, and a great opportunity to hang out with several hundred artists, journalists, academics, and uber music fans, and to think collectively about what it means to be a Christian involved in the arts.

This year's conference promises to be even better, with musical performances by Anathallo, Sufjan Stevens, Neko Case, and Emmylou Harris, and many fine opportunities for conversation/dialogue with those folks, as well as David Dark (Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons), Lauren Winner (Girls Meets God), Steve Stockman (Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2), Paste Magazine editor Josh Jackson, and many more. And me. Along with Michael Kaufmann, head of Asthmatic Kitty Records (Sufjan Stevens, Halfhanded Cloud, My Brightest Diamond, etc.), I'm going to be playing a Simon Cowell-like character, judging new music from a bunch of musical hopefuls, and awarding the lucky winner a slot onstage with Sufjan, Neko, and Emmylou. It should be great fun, and I'm practicing my scowl in preparation.

4 comments:

john r. williamson said...

enjoy, but don't scowl too much. you mean a lot to us. enjoy emmylou harris. i saw her once with lanois, during the "wrecking ball" tour and happened to listen to that album this evening, along with "relaxing with miles davis". she is an amazing singer. out of curiosity, do you have a favorite emmylou harris album? i am by no means an authority on such things.

Andy Whitman said...

John, I find Daniel Lanois' production methods a little too intrusive, so for that reason I'm not a big fan of "Wrecking Ball."

But I love Emmylou. She is an amazing singer. Recommending a favorite album is tough because she's explored so many different directions, and individual tastes obviously vary. But for me, my favorite Emmylou albms are "Roses in the Snow," from 1980, a stripped-down rootsy affair with Ricky Skaggs as her vocal foil, "Spyboy," a great late '90s live album with Buddy Miller providing the harmony vocals, and "Red Dirt Girl," from 2000, which features Emmylou's own songs (a rarity in her career), a fine, poetic sensibility, and the overriding theme of spiritual wrestling with sorrow and loss. She's also a great writer. Who knew?

Oh yeah, she's also appeared on roughly one third of the albums ever recorded. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but I bet I have hundreds of albums on which she lends her vocal talents. Of those, you certainly need to hear Gram Parsons' "GP" and "Grievous Angel," which feature some of the finest harmony singing ever recorded.

Anonymous said...

ah! just found out about this 5 minutes ago and here you have a post on it. i plan to submit some tracks for their bandspotting thing. - r (myspace.com/sonlux)

john r. williamson said...

andy,

thanks for your word on emmylou. i appreciate your honesty and respect your opinion. it's true that lanois has a certain affection that he goes for.

i love the gp/grievous angel cd. it never gets old. it always gets played. i enjoy spyboy, too. have to belly up to some of that ricky skaggs stuff, though.