Last Night: Paul Sprawl at the Laughing Goat in Boulder

Jeremy Facknitz and Paul Sprawl
July 14, 2009
Laughing Goat Coffee Shop, Boulder

Setting the mood for things to come, local singer-songwriter Jeremy Facknitz mirrored the mood of the crowd with his mellow vibes. Lesser talents attempting to pull this off would have been tiresome, possibly boring, but Facknitz not only wears this hat well, he carries a certain charm and quiet fire beneath it all. With extensive use of loop pedals and various intruments such as a trumpet, accordion and guitar, Facknitz weaved a blanket of warm sound. Tunes such as "Vaguely Alamosa" and "Better Than Us" touched on relatable life experiences, love, love lost, the tomfoolery of crushing on the life you think you'll have. On other tunes such as "Riann" and "Bijou Bridge," Facknitz displayed a confident energy throughout. An obvious fan of the Americana storytelling approach, he offered a nourishing break from the junky, mass-marketed Top 40 schtick.

Next up was Paul Sprawl, a California native who claims to be a wanderer. His sunkissed, sand surfer appearance belied the blues-driven sound. With a harmonica strapped around his neck, a steel guitar and his haunting voice, Sprawl conjured the diverse voices of the Mississippi, New Orleans and the Appalachian Trail.

Sprawl speaks of his travels to far away islands where live music reigns supreme to the commercialized and trivial pursuit of fame in our country. Ironically the coffee shop audience proved him right. Half of attendees were plugged into ear buds and computer screens throughout the evening. Maybe it was the sound? Acoustics seemed to be a bit off throughout his set with the guitar riding over top drowning out the ability to decipher some of the lyrics. But Sprawl seems to be a craftsman who doesn't necessarily need the clarity of words to make his point. Gorgeously laid out melodies and floating solo lines often speak for themselves, as was the case last night.

In between tunes, Sprawl talked about the challenging and frustrating aspects of the industry and how it's not easy to gain support for original, live music -- a valid complaint regardless of where you're at in the country. On this at least, original music reigned supreme for those who were listening, sending them home with a smile.

Paul Sprawl plays the Tap Room in Ft. Collins on Friday, July 17, and the Mercury Cafe on Saturday, July 18.

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