Damien Returns To Athens

It’s pretty odd for me to post about shows in Athens two days in a row. This season, though, has been really good for shows so far so when something exciting and cool is happening I’ll probably concentrate on that rather than other stuff. Which is why all I want to talk about today is Damien Jurado.

I was first turned on to Jurado several years ago when he was booking a tour with the also incredible Dave Fischoff. I was doing a lot of house shows at the time and somehow his people got my information and contacted me. I was happy to do the show after hearing his then-current record (1999’s Rehearsals For Departure) but was in no way prepared for the intense reaction I would have to his live show.

At any rate, I spent the weeks before the show telling everyone I could about it. The Internet was not as widespread as it is now and I don’t even think I had an email address at the time. It was all fliers and word-of-mouth. I wound up drawing less than 10 people.

Although I regretted not being able to pay Jurado and Fischoff any more than meager gas money (although, gas was only about a buck a gallon back then…) I knew I had seen something very special that night. I would have probably missed it if I was hosting a packed house full of drunken revelers. Jurado sat in his chair, played his guitar and drew me into his world. I was completely unaccustomed to an unprepared for such sensitive, insightful songwriting from a man whose size was easily twice mine. That is, how could I have ever know that this lumberjack-looking character had poetry within him tender enough to put a lump in my throat?

You know, truth be told, there’s generally nothing more boring than a white dude with an acoustic guitar. This is true 99.9% of the time. Jurado, however, busts all the cliches and makes the medium relevant and revelatory.
I wrote a short piece on this show for Athens’ Flagpole Magazine. I had tried to contact Jurado via email (I had no way of contacting him by phone) before my deadline so I could ask him some questions. Unfortunately, his answers got back to me too late to use so I thought I’d just run them here.

Before you go slagging me for what a shitty interview this is please keep in mind that it wasn’t supposed to be an interview. I just wanted a few quotes from him about the tour, his records, etc. So, yeah, that’s why my questions are so ham-fisted and dumb sounding. Either way, here goes:

24HourPartyPooper: Are you touring with your band or just by yourself? Also, what have been the benefits/drawbacks of working live with other people?

Damien Jurado: when I’m in Athens I will just be playing solo. There aren’t any drawbacks with working with other people. My experience has been really great with both Eric and Jenna.. I consider myself very lucky to be playing music with them.

24HPP: You been at this a long time. Are you satisfied (insofar as an artist can ever really be satisfied) with how the records have been received? They’ve always seemed to be critical favorites.

DJ: I am satisfied. ..again, I consider myself very lucky to be where I’m at. I have an audience who supports what I do and am surrounded by friends. As far as the songs and records. I would say the same. It’s a growing experience and also a learning one. Everyday is a new song. I just do my best.

24HPP: What’s your motivation? How do you keep going as a songwriter? Do you ever feel like you’ve written it all before? How do you deal with writers block (if you ever do, indeed, have it)?

DJ: Writers block has never really been a problem for me. Motivation, I would say, comes from just the pure love and even sometimes frustration of it all. It’s not like I enjoy touring…or even recording. But I have to do it. It provides so much in many areas.

Damien Jurado plays Athens 40 Watt tonight with Austin’s Okkervil River.
His latest album is And Now That I’m In Your Shadow which came out last year via Secretly Canadian.

MP3: Damien Jurado-I Had No Intentions
MP3: Damien Jurado-Denton, TX.
MP3: Damien Jurado-A Jealous Heart Is A Heavy Heart
MP3: Damien Jurado-What Were The Chances

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