TVD Recommends: Cate LeBon and Marian Fahey McLaughlin at DC9, 2/12

And Ms. Marian Fahey McLaughlin has why you should come out indeed:

After spending the afternoon in a crazed hunting state crouched over crates of records at the DC Record Fair, wind down the day with dark and delicate folk music from Cate Le Bon and Marian Fahey McLaughlin.  Sure, you might be excited to give your finds an immediate spin, but in case you want to extend your musical experience into the evening, come over to DC9 by 7:30 for a bill of two girls with guitars.  

Or rather, to be more appropriate, women with guitars. Because the phrase “girls with guitars” has such a connotation to it.  For instance, there’s that Wyonna Judd song.  Cate and I follow parts of the lyrics, as in that at an early age we loved flipping through record collections, went to shows to pick up on riffs and chords, and admired Hendrix.  But here we are, years later with lots of listening under our belts, and we’ve got something to say, and play.

And our music, however, has no resemblance in tone to Judd.  I myself make what my friends call  “fractal folk”, based on the fact that my lyrics bounce around the English language with internal rhyming (the feminine ryhyme scheme), playing off of multiple permutations of words and following similar patterns that later recur at smaller scales, as a fractal would.

In my songs, I take delight telling stories, as well as making my own myths and elaborating upon others.  My songs explore existence, alliteration, assonace, and dissonance, with themes from Pluto loosing planethood to the Greek story of the abduction of Persephone, as well as homage to a variety of creatures, the color spectrum, and cardinal directions.Weaving together intricate chords in alternate tunings on my nylon-stringed guitar, I’m highly inspired by the fingerpicking of my namesake, John Fahey, but stylistically, I follow in the steps of long-gone songstresses like Dory Previn and Linda Perhacs, and appreciates the innovation of my contemporaries such as Larkin Grimm, Joanna Newsom and St. Vincent.

Speaking of St. Vincent, Cate Le Bon spent last autumn on an extensive American tour with bad-ass singer and guitarist Annie Clark.  (Cate, by the way, in a Welsh songstress, who at times sings in Welsh).  For years, I loved Annie Clark for her role in performing live arrangements with Sufjan Stevens, but it wasn’t till this past year that I discovered her own project of shredding riffs while spouting out melodic poetry.  It was pretty inspiring to watch videos of a musician like Clark going back and forth between sparse acoustic arrangements to letting loose on her electric.  I can see why Clark chose Cate to open up for her, as Cate’s style is close to the underlying basis of Clark’s compositions.  Cate has also toured, collaborated, and recorded with Gruff Rhys of Super Fury Animals.

Cate did a live session last December on Daytrotter, who said on their site that  “she seems to be one of those people who’s not depressed at all, they just like depressing things. They like to think about sadness, if for no other reason than that it has more depth.”  After reading a quote from Cate saying that “early experiences with a string of pet deaths had a profound lasting effect” and about her “abnormal fixation with death”, I knew that I had to share a bill with her when she came through the district.  I myself have songs about skeletal pets and lyrics that try to understand the anxieties of mortality.

Horses seem to be the symbolic animal of choice for Cate, who grew up on a rural farm in Wales.  In her music video for “Shoeing the Bones” Cate seems to show a human connection with a horse, hanging up laundry in its company and sharing a glass of wine with it as she sings “these are hard times to fall in love”.  Cate’s first official release back in 2008 also has an equine reference.  Titled in Welsh as Edrych yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg, it translates into “Looking in the Eyes of a Borrowed Horse”, similar to the expression “to look a gift horse in the mouth”.  I assure you, between Cate and my music, you shouldn’t feel any doubt about this opportunity Sunday to catch rare and intimate sets by us both.  As you can discover a lot about a horse’s condition by looking at its teeth, you can sure discover just as much about us through our songs.

Cate Le Bon and Marian Fahey McLaughlin play at DC9 Sunday February 12th.  Doors open at 7, show starts at 7:45.  Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of.

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