Stress Relief – A Concert – I’m with Her

ImWithHer_SeeYouAroundFINALI stumbled across a newish musical group that I really like. I’m with Her has been called a folk supergroup, with three female singer-songwriter-instrumentalists getting together in gorgeous harmony with bluegrass and roots stylings. (They remind me a bit of the more bluegrassy Dixie Chicks songs.) Before you ask, I’m with Her had their name before it was used in the Hillary campaign and is meant to convey that the three are making music together, complementing their respective solo careers.

I owe the find to a combination of internet browsing and Serv’s blog. Serv posted a video of Mary Chapin Carpenter singing “The Bug”, which lead me to wonder what MCC  has been up to. I came across some performances on YouTube from the really cool Transatlantic Sessions, recorded in Scotland and broadcast on BBC Four, which have brought together folk musicians from both sides of the Atlantic. There were videos of MCC singing with Irish-American singer Aoife O’Donovan and of bluegrass artist Alison Krauss singing with the young, accomplished Sarah Jarosz. I hadn’t heard of O’Donovan or Jarosz, both of whom impressed me, but on further searching I found that these two solo artists had recently joined together as a musical group with fellow Grammy-winner Sara Watkins and released an album, which I promptly bought and put into constant rotation on iTunes. And as luck would have it, I’m with Her was going to be playing in Vancouver!

Chan CentreI bought myself a front row side balcony seat, with some belated birthday money from my in-laws. I decided to go alone so that I could immerse myself in the experience without having to worry if my husband was okay (as it’s not his kind of music). The venue is on the campus of the University of British Columbia, far from my house but worth the drive. The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is designed for optimum acoustics, with the high ceiling allowing the sound to fill the room. The three musicians had a combined ten instruments waiting behind them, comprised of fiddle, ukulele, and guitar, and they traded them back and forth throughout the show. When the singers stepped up to the microphones, I was a bit disappointed because in the shows I’d seen on-line, they had sung into one mic together. But the sound was fantastic. I sipped my wine, got lost in the music and the harmonies, and forgot about the stress of day-to-day life for a couple of hours. I really love bluegrass sounds, and in fact this combination of bluegrass, folk, country, roots is what I really would have liked to have been singing if I hadn’t instead pursued my “career to fall back on”. (I only felt sad for a moment while listening.) Bluegrass vocals have a unique style with certain notes pushed out more forcefully than others, and it made me feel for the sound technician — it must be hard to maintain consistency in volume.

One micThis group is truly about singing together and letting the music decide who will sing the lead on a particular song. They wrote the songs collaboratively, resulting in a well-balanced album and set. It was clear how much they were reveling in the beautiful sounds they were making together, with no hint of ego. And the sounds truly were beautiful, with the singers recreating the songs from the album so perfectly, as well as throwing in some John Hiatt and Bob Dylan tunes. And I was really pleased a little later when they all finally stepped to the front of the stage and sang together into one mic. On one of the songs, their voices blended so well that you could hear harmonics, or another note vibrating over the three voices. So cool. For the very last encore, they decided to do a song with no amplification at all in order to really make use of the wonderful acoustics. The audience barely breathed as we listened to the vocals start quietly building to soaring notes that swirled around us.

I really enjoyed my escape from the daily grind… right up until the point where I turned into a pumpkin (i.e. had to drive from the concert straight to my son’s hockey)!

Here are a couple of videos of I’m with Her, the first for Adele fans (with Paul Kowert on double bass) and the second being an NPR performance that gives a good idea of the concert experience and shows off the bluegrass feel to the vocals and instruments.

22 thoughts on “Stress Relief – A Concert – I’m with Her

  1. I love the venue with the purple lighting and high ceilings: very modern but intimate! So glad you liked the concert. I confess I’m with your husband on this type of music, not really my cup of tea but I always try to get first row balcony seat at the Kennedy Center unless it’s ballet then I sit second row in the Orchestra. I like the balcony seats b/c you can see from up higher and the view is spectacular without having other audience members’ heads in the way or shuffling around or chit chatting inappropriately (sorry pet peeves of mine at the theatre). I took two things from your review: the three women fed off each other’s passion for the music and collaborations and you needed a respite from the daily grind and this concert hit the spot. Was it a matinee since you said you went to your son’s hockey game afterward?

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    • I really enjoyed it. My dad loved bluegrass, my brother played banjo, and my sister and I used to harmonize Flatt and Scruggs songs sitting around my parents’ living room. But my taste in music is pretty eclectic.

      The joy that the women took in each others’ performances and their combined sound was really wonderful to watch. The break was nice, but it ended too soon. It was an evening concert, but my son’s hockey didn’t end until 10:45. I offered to go and relieve my husband, since he tends to want to go to bed early.

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      • Wow Sue I don’t know where you get your energy. That must have been an incredibly long day! I’m headed to the San Francisco Ballet on Sunday at the Kennedy Center.
        I think that’s uber cool that you have such an eclectic taste in music. I’m much more 80’s centered although some 90s era music has now crept into my playlist. I like a little of the EDM music but now some of it sounds the same and I don’t have any musical knowledge to really tell the difference between the songs. EDM music reminds me of the Backstreet Boys and N Sync-I could never tell the difference between them or distinguish who sang which songs for the longest time. Blasphemous I know to the ears of a lot of people who grew up in the 90s as tweens and preteens and teens.

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        • I have no energy left… which is of course why my blogging output has really decreased. We’re often not home from hockey until close to midnight, even for the weeknight games. I guess they figure teenagers won’t be in bed anyway. My teenager likes heavy metal, so we listen to a lot of that in the car — some I like; some not so much.

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          • Really heavy metal? Like Metallica old school heavy metal? Motley Crue? I heard Dr. Feelgood the other day which came out when I was in the last days of college. Does your younger son like any of the music you grew up with since he likes Shakespeare right?

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            • Sometimes, but usually heavier. I was a teenager in the ‘70’s, so most of what I listened to with my friends was hard rock — Bowie, AC/DC, Queen, Black Sabbath, Frank Zappa, etc. But I also played classical piano, played and sang country and folk, was in musical theatre, enjoyed punk (saw the Ramones live), loved Billy Joel, and the list goes on! We meet on the hard rock and punk at this point.

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              • Wow that is some 70s rock list. I liked Bowie’s Let’s Dance album and I saw Billy Joel and Elton John in concert together in 2009 one of the best and heart warming concerts I’ve ever been too. Stadium tour no bad seat in the house. Both were funny and sweet and so respectful to each other since Elton esp has a bit of a diva reputation although w kids now he’s apparently mellowed quite a bit. Joel talked about his second marriage failing during the concert (she was way too young for him ) and Elton talked about his brief marriage and that it forced him to accept himself for who he is.

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  2. I’ve only been to Madison Square Garden once about 10 years ago to see Kathy Griffin. It was really nice. Billy Joel I think has done several stints there over the years and I really wanted to see U2 perform there this year but just wasn’t in the cards to go up and spend the weekend. The tickets were uber expensive anyway and when they played in DC over the summer the tickets were just worse than Hamilton tickets. Bon Jovi was in DC in May and I went with my brother and sister in law and a couple of their neighbor friends and it was a great show. Just the band, a huge stage and overhead TV monitors so there really wasn’t a bad seat in the house. The band that opened for them won a nationwide concert and they were a local Virginia based band. So cool.

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    • I like Kathy Griffin. I didn’t get to see her when she came here, but I saw Sarah Silverman when she came. I saw U2 years ago — my husband really likes them. Bon Jovi must have been cool.

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      • Yeah know Sue they were cool. I went to be honest b/c my sister in law invited me and I ended up getting her a t-shirt as a thank you since she had paid for my ticket. I liked our seats, she ended up getting vertigo (which I didn’t know she had) and sat for most of the concert. They gave free cds of This House Is Not For Sale which is a pretty good CD and I’m not that much a Bon Jovi fan-I like Johnny boy as a guy b/c he avoided the pitfalls of fame and never forgot his roots. He opened a diner in NJ that is a contribute what you can place. His oldest son runs a winery that Jon owns. He’s a smart businessman. He and Richie Sambora had a huge falling out so Richie wasn’t there and Washington DC was the last stop on the tour in May. I’m having a habit of TMI today..sorry

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  3. Oh as for Kathy Griffin yeah know I like her too now. I went when she had her Bravo show Life on the D List w/ her mom. I liked that she was very honest about who she was and that she would take any gig to be seen and be heard. She’s very smart and I like her intel on celebrities-I won’t lie I think how does she know all this stuff but I think she is a good listener (most comedians/comediennes are I suppose) and is a good networker. She came to the Kennedy Center in 2016 but we had a power outage and I had to deal with that at home so I passed.

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    • I guess she’s a bit controversial —something Trump related. Mind you, so was Silverman when I saw her, for the same reason. She had had death threats just before the show I saw, so it was s little scary going to it.

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      • Oh wow I did not know Silverman has dead threats she’s ok a little mean mean whereas Griffin has a lot of self
        sense of humor which I can relate to more. She got the n huge trouble last year May when she held up a mock Trump severed head. I’m all for freedom of speech but that went to far.
        There are ways of rebelling and making a point politically w out getting vile. It cost her dearly

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          • Gosh I realized my last comment was when the Nyquil kicked in last night, not quite a drunken text message but grammatically badddd. I haven’t seen Silverman’s I Love America show I think on HULU or Netflix. I know she has branched out into acting. I applaud her on the one hand for speaking her mind and she may not say she is a “feminist” per se but she talks a good talk. I sometimes think her humor is crude and mean. She dated Jimmy Kimmel for a long time in the early 2000s. That would have been an interesting fly on the wall moment. She’s very confident in who she is and that is probably the best thing I like about her. She and I probably lean politically and socially the same way. I just don’t have the balls except maybe hopefully on my own blog to be as outspoken as she is. But she built her comedy career on that so more power to her.

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            • Her acting is really good. She played an addicted mother in I Smile Back. Not a happy movie but really well done.

              Comedians are a special breed in terms of saying what they think out loud and taking things to the limit and sometimes farther.

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  4. Love it! That sounds so relaxing. They were selling drinks at the BTS concert but I was driving, I wouldn’t have relaxed regardless. But now I’m thinking I should put some bluegrass on my playlist.

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    • It was great while it lasted. If only I could do something like that every week! I’m glad you had a good time at BTS,despite the ticket woes. I have a bunch of different genres on my playlist — I’m kind of fickle that way. These ladies mix the bluegrass with folky sounds, which I like.

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