Date: Sunday, Sep 26th, 2021
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Stuart’s Opera House
Tickets on sale now!
Reserved Seats: $20.00/advance • $25.00/door
Box Seats: $25.00/advance • $30.00/door
Please note that an additional $3 facility fee will be added to the price of each ticket.
Stuart’s Opera House is excited to welcome Okkervil River (solo) and Damien Jurado to the Stuart’s Stage! Please note that this show will abide by the appropriate COVID-19 guidelines that are in place at the time of the show.
Okkervil River (solo)
Over the course of their career, Okkervil River has released nine albums that have given front man Will Sheff a reputation as one of the greatest working songwriters in the country. As Sheff and his shifting lineup of players have traveled the world many times over, they’ve made fans ranging from Lou Reed to Barack Obama and been praised by outlets from the New York Times to NPR to Pitchfork, who called Sheff “One of indie rock’s most ambitious thinkers”. Last year saw Okkervil River’s two-decades-plus trek around the globe captured in A Dream in the Dark, an expansive release anthologizing 20 years of live performance, spanning from pin- drop listening rooms to stadium stages – released on ATO Records. In addition to his work with Okkervil River, Sheff composes for film and television, has written for the Times, McSweeney’s, Gawker and Rolling Stone, worked as a producer on psych-rock legend Roky Erickson’s critically-acclaimed comeback album True Love Cast Out All Evil, and released his directorial film debut Down Down the Deep River in 2015.
On The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, Damien Jurado gathers up ten stories of people determined not to be broken by their dire circumstances. “The world is a liar, the stars are a must,” he sings over brushed drums, a circling bassline, and acoustic guitar on “Helena,” which opens his 17th album, the first release from Damien’s own Maraqopa Records. Dire circumstances have long been fixtures of Jurado’s songs, which are filled with ghosts, killers, cruel lovers, and the occasional UFO cult or false messiah. But here, the scenes are earthy, drawn from ordinary but no less immense calamities: hurricanes moving toward town, strained connections, amnesiacs in the front yard. On The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, Jurado pulls the curtains shut, blocking out “the light now embarrassed and afraid of the dark,” as he sings on “Tom,” one of the album’s haunting numbers, only to throw them open the exact moment sunshine needs to come flooding in.
Jurado has certainly made sparser records than The Monster, but sonically it is among his most exposed, stripping away the cosmic gloss that defined his trio of albums with the late Richard Swift in favor of dry, homespun ambiance. “In a lot of ways, it’s a continuation of the work I did with Swift,” Jurado says. Had the producer not passed away in 2018—he’s been memorialized in a number of Damien’s recent songs—it’s likely the duo would have found themselves drawn in this direction too, Damien suspects, noting that the addition by subtraction approach imbued the new album with a certain quality of “emptiness,” creating the feel of a sort of spiritual karaoke track, tailor made for personal projection. “I wanted to leave space for the listener,” Jurado says.
Known for working fast—he’s usually got a handful of finished albums at the ready at any given time—the compositions here are uncluttered, but not slight, decorated by Beatles-esque bass-lines, drums, and strings. Inspired by the sound of records like Lou Reed’s The Bells and Paul McCartney’s Ram, Jurado produced the new album himself, employing “a certain dryness,” which allowed the songs to feel cavernous, even “after spending so long in reverb land,” Jurado laughs.
Jurado’s discography is full of detours—from answering machine collages to full-on electric rock band outings—but there’s a through line connecting it all, evidence of an almost oracular or prophetic unease that lurks in Jurado’s headspace. Listening to The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, you can still hear that young man living within these songs, speaking as if from the other side, about the circumstances that crush people or leave them vexed. “The loneliest place I’ve ever been is in your arms,” he sings on the ghostly, Jason Molina-evoking “Male Customer #1”; “I hadn’t been in a car yet/Hearing the world through your eyes,” he sings on the quixotic “Jennifer.”
On the album’s most harrowing and gripping song “Johnny Caravella,” he dreams up an epic of American strangeness in the vein of Springsteen’s “State Trooper” or Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop.” His voice cracking over a distorted maw of guitars, Jurado narrates a frantic drive west, tuned into the sound of prophecy coming over the radio: “All is not lost/Even if you’re without a direction.” “Just stick around till the light pushes into the darkness,” Damien promises – or admits – at the burned-out husk of the song’s conclusion. Jurado’s best songs have long concerned inevitabilities. On The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, he offers up his own Twilight Zone, “a middle ground between light and shadow”…a dimension of imagination, of half-remembered dreams and people reaching out to cross into that liminal space between heartbreak and wholeness. Jurado knows the territory well. He knows the secret words to whisper at the right time. Press your eye to the speaker, tune your ear to the horizon.
-Jason P. Woodbury
More Upcoming Events
Date: | Time:
Free! FREE! Join us for the art opening of Deep in Ohio, a show by Savannah Freeman of Moonville Print Shop. More about Savannah Freeman: My work is inspired by...
Date: | Time:
Registration is open now! Please note that this event has both in-person and virtual options. Registration: $250 | Apply here. Scholarships are available. We are excited for the return of...
Date: | Time:
Free and outdoors! Free and outdoors! The Stuart's Opera House Summer Concert Series will be hosted at Robbins Crossing at Hocking College in June, July, August, and September! We are...