A while back, my friend Katelyn introduced me to the songs of her favorite musician, Josh Garrels. Saturday night I got to see her reaction as she saw him in concert for the first time, and it was awesome.
My first real exposure to Garrels came when Katelyn brought over a DVD box set of the musician, proclaiming she thought I’d really like it. The Sea In Between included a copy of a feature length film and a visual LP of sorts containing music videos of Garrels and a bevy of other talented musicians from the music collective Mason Jar Music. Much like VH1’s Storytellers or Behind the Music, the movie gave the viewer more than tunes alone. It delivered much of the artist’s background, family life, and a bit of the journey in how the songs and musical collaborations in The Sea in Between (Soundtrack) - Josh Garrels & Mason Jar Music and other efforts came to be.
Throughout his career, Garrels has recorded, produced, and sold his music without big label representation. Garrels’ wife, Michelle, describes them as the least likely business owners on the planet, co-founding Small Voice Records in 2005 and stamping and assembling CD packages at their dining room table. Despite the lack of typical big industry management, this husband and wife duo are making things work with what seems like a lot of teamwork, sheer will, and, of course, a ton of talent.
One of Garrels‘ desires is for people to see the fun and energy in music, hoping that it would inspire them to enter into that joy. I’ve seen first-hand the joy that his music has inspired in my friend’s life, so when I heard he was coming to the Music Farm, I knew Katelyn needed to be at that show. It was a privilege to be able to go with her and a few other friends. The smile on her face would have made the experience worthwhile, but I had also grown to really like Josh’s music, making the concert an extra treat for me as well.
David Wimbish and his Greensboro, NC based band, The Collection, opened the show and backed Garrels later in his set. The friendly group brought only a portion of their collective of musicians with them, but still produced a strong sound with the five talented folks that appeared. In between songs, Wimbish told the Charleston crowd they were so great he’d like to meet them. When a man in the crowd shouted he wanted to meet them too, the music was slightly delayed and Wimbish, along with the rest of the Music Farm, got introduced to the fan, who’s name was Cameron.
Josh Garrels took the stage after a brief intermission. The musician played the majority of the show solo. He said he often traveled like that, just himself, a guitar, and a duffel bag. As he currently lives in Portland, Oregon, he traveled a long way to be with us on the east coast. From all accounts, it seemed the Charleston crowd was mighty thankful he made his first trip to the Holy City.
"Break Bread" by Josh Garrels.
He played a variety of songs from previous records as well as a couple of new songs off his yet to be released new album. He spoke of the importance of keeping friends, family, and faith at the core of life before playing “Slip Away”, and described “Break Bread” as what happens when Mickey Heart’s percussion, George Winston’s piano skills, a Peter Gabriel sample, and a church hymn collide. He finished his regular set with my favorite song of his, "Farther Along - Love & War & the Sea In Between". He invited us to sing along if we knew the the words. For the sake of the man in front of me, I hope Josh was loud enough to cover up my joyful off-key version of his song. I was too happy not to sing (or yell as the case may have been).
He played two final songs for an encore, one slow and one fast. The slow one was a song he’d written for his children. Think of a singer-songwriter version of Will Smith’s “Just The Two Of Us”, and you’ll have the gist. A fan of early rap, the folk composer gave a nod to the genre with the last song of the night, “The Resistance”, saying the rap medium allows artists to say things that few other genres do.
Throughout the show, I would glance over at Katelyn every now and then. I knew she was in a happy place. Many of us music lovers have that handful of bands or singers that we just adore. We've annoyed a roommate at one point or another playing their record on repeat. We've spent more money than we could afford to go to one of their shows. They sing the songs we want to hear when we are happy, or heart-broken, or just because we want to make our Monday better. To see them on stage and be able to sing with them is a grand gift. Saturday night at the Josh Garrels show, the idea that getting to see a friend experience their favorite was also solidified as an incredible experience. I'm sure thankful Katelyn decided to introduce me to the music of Garrels, and hope his experience in Charleston was as pleasant for him as it was for his fans.
Audra Gibson is a Christian, photographer, surfer, and a lover of teriyaki steak bites. She enjoys live music, doesn't like to be cold, and she's a bit of a cheese snob. Traveling Ink was her little brain child and she's very happy that you're here. She'd be oh so happy to recommend her favorite tours and attractions in town, help you with a team building event, or organize a day (or week) of fun for you and your group.Website: www.audragibson.com