Spirits In The Night – A Journey With Jim James At The Grammy Museum

Yes, you got me… I was here last night instead of another meeting.  This was planned for a while and these musical evenings are just what I need at the moment.  So forgive me.

You have heard me wax poetic about the Grammy Museum and the Clive Davis Theatre, so no need to go off on that… let me just say these evenings are worth more than their weight in gold… though how would we even weigh the room anyway?

What you get with “An Evening With…” is about an hour-long interview, moderated by the always fun and always informed, Scott Goldman.  No dead space, no dropped balls, just a smooth, flowing chat that gets artists to really open up.  Fantastic interviewer!

And then you get some great live music… the number of songs depending on what the artist wants to do.

Thanks to Cameron Crowe… and yes, my brother, DanMy Morning Jacket has become a favorite band of mine.  Their live shows are stunning.  So is Jim James’ latest project, the solo album Regions Of Light And Sound Of G-d.  I don’t spell it out… it’s just a thing of mine… and I think a Jewish thing… not really supposed to write G-d’s name… I don’t know… I’ve always done it that way!

So… The highlight for me was hearing Jim talk about the MusiCares benefit show he played with Bruce… Still hurts so deeply that I missed that.  So deeply… like a knife…  AAGGHH!!!

He told us about sending Bruce an email… and Bruce’s sincere and warm response, and his nervousness at doing “Ghost Of Tom Joad” with Tom Morello in front of Bruce.  Awesome stories.  Scott wanted him to talk about the recent Americana gigs he did with Wilco and Bob Dylan, but apparently he is legally forbidden from talking about Dylan.  Wow.

He also refused to tell us about the significance of the Bear(s)… a visible and steady presence any good My Morning Jacket fan knows about.  But Bears are all over the place for MMJ.  They have a bear on the cover of the album It Still Moves… the song “The Bear”… It’s on a Roll Call t-shirt I own… and also on the cover of Acoustic Citsuoca.  Supposedly one of the stuffed Bears is named Denise

In an interview with City Beat a few years back, Bo Koster said of the huge stuffed bears that reside on the stage for every MMJ show :

“Yeah, we have bears. We have always had animals and shit like that since the beginning of time… It’s been part of the band for a long time. It’s our spirit animal. It’s our totem. Have you seen those animal totem books? I have a couple of those at home. That’s kind of a thing. It’s fun.”

They also lay claim to the owl… and I am STILL trying to get one of those MMJ owl shirts (long sold out and not being made anymore apparently)!!!  XL… if you find it.

Jim James Bear Jim James Bear and Guitars

Last night Jim had a bear on a small table in front of his guitars…  It was shiny and gold and really like a Panda Bear Buddha… which Jim held up to the heavens just before exiting the stage.  So it must have some spiritual significance… and that was kind of the tenor of the evening.  His amazing falsetto… his plaintive wails… his notes, seemingly coming from out of his body, took us all on such an amazing journey.  This is a man exploring everything through his art and his instrument… literally.  His guitar and his voice are the vessels… or maybe the speakers.  We all felt it.  I know my pal Shiny did… and so did Julie and her friend Linda… though I will be gosh darned if I cannot get those two over to the Springsteen camp.  What does a fella have to do???

No, I did not get the setlist… front row folks had the jump on them… but Jim played the hell out of 11 Songs… the most I have ever seen anyone do there… What a journey!  He did three from the solo project… “The Right Place” and “Losin Yo Head” from Monsters of Folk“Look At You”, “What A Wonderful Man”, “Bermuda Highway” and “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” from MMJ… and “Changing World” from New Multitudes (which is the fantastic Woody Guthrie project he worked on as his alter ego Yim Yames).

Jim James Setlist

We wanted him for an encore, but no such luck.  After closing with “His Masters Voice” (also MOF) he lifted up the bear above his head, looked towards the ceiling and then bowed to us and left the stage… a loop playing while he was gone.  Scott thought that meant he’d be back.  We all did… The loop kept going and going, but no Jim.
It doesn’t matter… this evening will be playing in our minds for a long while!

1 Comment

Filed under Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

One response to “Spirits In The Night – A Journey With Jim James At The Grammy Museum

  1. Fully

    I love My Morning Jacket too. Thanks for a beautiful recap of a night I couldn’t attend. I love seeing Jim play acoustic shows like this. Also, your writing is beautiful in a way that reminds me of the beauty of an acoustic Jim show -very peaceful tone.

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