It’s no secret that I do really cool things sometimes. In fact, my absence from Hearingade can quickly be explained away by the fact that I was on tour with that really rad band I hang out with, The Appleseed Collective (and don’t fret, a comprehensive tour diary will be coming your way next week!). Even for me though, being a part of Matt Jones’s recent in-studio concert, filmed and dubbed Lesser Birds, was one of the cooler things I’ve gotten the chance to experience.
For the uninitiated (read: Those outside of Michigan), the name Matt Jones probably means next to nothing. But chances are that your favorite mitten-based music act is a fan of Jones even if you aren’t. Around these parts, Jones is a near legend, a veritable veteran of the remarkably solid Ann Arbor folk scene that features more than a few Paste magazine darlings that get quite a bit of love on Hearingade. Of all these amazing Michigan acts, Jones remains my favorite. The music Jones makes is atypical folk, influenced by ragtime and the civil war era. His lyrics, sung at a break-neck speed that would leave The Hold Steady in awe, are tinged with an enrapturing darkness. Combined with intricate guitar, Jones makes music that can be described with words like “breathtaking” and “remarkably affecting”. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Jones yourself.
So when Jones invited me to Jim Roll’s Ann Arbor studio, Backseat Productions, for an intimate concert, I jumped at the chance. Honestly, I didn’t even know what I was signing up for when I told Matt Jones I’d be there. I just knew something awesome was happening and I could be a part of it. I wasn’t completely sure what I’d even done to warrant an invite but I wasn’t going to refuse. Jones is one of my favorite musicians but unlike bands like The Ultrasounds and The Appleseed Collective, I’m not exactly friends with Matt. I don’t really know him as a person. But I do know him through his songs, and those songs mean the world to me.
What happened at Backseat was an incredibly small, intimate concert that found a dozen or so of Ann Arbor’s finest sitting on folding chairs only feet away from Jones, cellist Collette Alexander, and vocalist Misty Lyn, as they played a comprehensive set of music spanning from Matt’s first EP to (the as-of-then yet-unreleased) new mini-LP, Half Poison Half Pure. I don’t really need to even talk about it because you can just watch the whole thing.