Dylan Sneed organized an event called Bridges all by his damn self. That man will cull much magic into Brooklyn. You’ll see. Neither of us at TRS new exactly what it was going to be. Nor did most anyone else. Dylan’s description to me was that it would be akin to, let’s say, VH1’s Storytellers, or whatever. And I mean “whatever.” Because Dylan didn’t fully know. The first subject of the Bridges series was Chris Q. Murphy who I happened to run into at Roots Café. I asked him. He gave me the same “Storytellers” description, and a shrug of the shoulders. Intriguing.
My first encounters with Mr. Murphy were he playing along with other acts. I was introduced to him personally at Roots Café, and learned he is a music teacher in Brooklyn. It was also at Roots Café’s monthly evening of music that I finally heard Chris Q. Murphy. I attended because I was actually interested in someone else performing that night. I can’t remember who. I remember Chris and his guitar and his songs.
Chris Q. is a balladeer. He tells stories, and finely so. In this country/Americana scene in Brooklyn his music was the first I could connect with legitimately, technically. I don’t play no instrument, and cannot carry a tune in a bucket, so a large part of my witness to these talented musicians is that of wonder. But narrative I get. Narrative I’ve worked with, and work with for this here blog. So, hearing a complex narrative not only made plain and concise, but also set to music is its own brand of wonder for me. Also, strangely, it’s not something I normally go for in my listening life. In the thousands of songs I’ve amassed in my digital library, only a handful would be considered narrative or ballads (Ballad in its strictest definition, not 80s power ballad type stuff.). Perhaps because my life is centered around finding and working within a structured narrative that I go to more abstract or impressionistic lyrics when I go to unwind and have respite in a song. But when a story is good it’s good. Chris’s songs find significant literary achievement. He’s also fucking awesome on guitar.
So, I was eager to attend Bridges. It was held in an office space, which also contained a small record shop in the back—for some reason. Really, to get to Permanent Records vinyl record shop one must go into the office building, get to the second floor, and walk past a series of desks around to the back for the small makeshift record store. It’s literally playing hide-and-seek with you. A bit of this office space was cleared out and reset with café style table and seating arrangements. Music was first and foremost, but in between songs Chris engaged with the audience. He discussed the merits of a listener knowing whether or not the subjects in his stories were fictitious or lifted from real life. He passed out little notebooks and pencils and asked the audience to compare and contrast two songs that share themes but mete them out in different tempos and points of view. It wasn’t a class. Dylan and Chris had turned the concert into a conversation. Chris, a funny man, did well to make it breezy and natural. There was no PBS pretention of doling out lessons in appreciation. By the end he had everyone singing along.
It would seem that Bridges made its destination and was a success. TRS looks forward to more of such shows. Cheers to Dylan, and cheers to Chris, y’all!