Simon Joyner's name is deeply ingrained in the secret history of indie rock, and his songs have been praised by everyone from Beck to Bright Eyes to John Peel. His latest release, Out into the Snow (Team Love), is a post-Dylan portrait of flawed characters wandering aimlessly through a somber, Midwestern landscape. Joyner's soft moan and strum have never jibed with the clamor of a smoky bar scene; for this tour, the Omaha, Neb., indie-songwriter fixture is playing house shows and other non-traditional spaces. Brainworlds open with a dose of head-clearing drones. Coyote Bones play stark, dreary Springsteen-circa-Nebraska country songs that ruminate on life, love and the brutality of the human condition.
Chad Radford: Tell me about your current "Living Rooms and Discrete Places" tour.
Simon Joyner: The idea behind the tour is to play house shows, galleries and places that aren't traditional music venues. I really like playing house shows because they are a lot more intimate. People are there because they want to hear the music and it's not the bloated, rock and roll experience where I'm sitting way up high on a stage -- I'm usually at eye level with the people who are there, and I'm not in a situation where a someone is thinking, okay, if I book this opening band I can get this many more people in here and we'll make this much money. Also I don't have to compete with the sounds and environment of a loud, smokey bar. It was either do it this way, or do what the Beatles did and stop playing live altogether because they didn't get any enjoyment out of it, which is pretty much what I did. I haven't played many shows at all over the last decade, aside from a few shows here and there. Playing these kinds of shows really reminds me of why I started playing music and how much fun I had doing it, even before I started recording.
Have you encountered any speed bumps by playing these kinds of low key shows and not dealing with actual promoters?
It's been pretty smooth. Just with e-mail you can generally discern who has their act together and can best facilitate a show. We played our first show on the tour in Lawrence, Kansas [a few nights ago] and it worked out really well. They had a fire going outside and there were a lot of people there. It was a lot of fun.
Are you sticking to material from your latest record, Out in the Snow with for these shows?
No. We will play some songs from Out in the Snow, but since I tour so infrequently we will be playing some stuff from all of the albums, from the Cowardly Traveler... on up. The band I'm touring with is a trio, called the Parachutes, which is Mike Friedman playing pedal steel guitar and bass, and Aaron Mackey on keys and percussion. I'm singing and playing guitar. As a band we know about 23 songs together so we will be mixing up a few songs here and there, and then I'll let them take a break and finish the show with a solo set. That if anyone has a song that they want to hear and it's one that the band doesn't know, I can play it.
$10. 9 p.m. WonderRoot, 982 Memorial Drive. 404-254-5955. www.wonderroot.org.
Simon will also play an Athens show at Flickre Theater & Bar on Fri., March 26. $10. 9 p.m.
(Photo by Sara Adkisson Joyner)
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