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Standing Room Only GA Floor / Reserved Loge and Balcony
89.3 The Current presents
7PM doors / 8PM show
7PM doors / 8PM show
“When you’ve been a band for 17 years, inevitably there are habits you fall into,” says Colin Meloy. “So our ambition this time was really just to get out of our comfort zone. That’s what prompted working with a different producer and using a different studio. We wanted to free ourselves from old patterns and give ourselves permission to try something different.” With I’ll Be Your Girl, the Decemberists—lead vocalist and guitarist Meloy, guitarist Chris Funk, keyboardist Jenny Conlee, bassist Nate Query, and drummer John Moen—explore new approaches to making music and broaden their sonic range.
It’s the group’s follow-up to 2015’s What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (which charted in the Top Ten and included the #1 AAA single “Make You Better”), though in the time since, they have released the EP Florasongs; a 10th anniversary limited edition vinyl box set of their 2006 Capitol Records debut The Crane Wife; their own crowd-funded board game Illimat; The Queen of Hearts, a GRAMMY-nominated collaboration with Olivia Chaney under the name Offa Rex; and “Ben Franklin’s Song,” the first of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s monthly “Hamildrops” of bonus material from Hamilton; as well as launching Travelers’ Rest, an annual two-day musical festival of their own curation in Missoula, Montana.
As busy as they have been, the band felt a need to shake things up. “On the last record,” says Meloy, “there were moments when I thought I was making familiar choices. I tried to be mindful in the songwriting process of challenging myself and being a little more critical. The idea was, how can we make unfamiliar choices, turn off the light a little and grope around in the dark a bit?”
Like previous records The Hazards of Love or The Crane Wife have been structured around thematic or musical concepts, though Meloy maintains that ultimately, it’s always “our frame of mind that ties them together.” This time, he says, the songs share a mood that’s steeped in our current times and condition—“exuberant nihilism, an apocalyptic dance party was what we envisioned.”
“We were talking about music and our references,” says Meloy. “It kept coming back to Roxy Music and early glam, and we dove in with that in mind. The Decemberists are a record-collectors’ band, we’re all fans and scholars of music, so there a lot of touch points that we all get, but they don’t always come through. So we were trying to embrace that Bryan Ferry aspect, that kind of set the tone.”
The approach the Decemberists pursued on I’ll Be Your Girl also allowed for a new sense of contribution and involvement from the other band members. “Since we were going to mix it up, everybody felt like they had more of a voice,” says Meloy. Highlighting the input of Chris Funk and Jenny Conlee, Meloy mentions “Severed” as a significant team effort. “That was written as a punk song, but wasn’t really working,” he says. “Jenny set this arpeggio throughout it, and it became like an early New Order song. And I had forgotten that when we made the demo, I also started a file to turn it into more of a Depeche Mode song—I actually wanted it to be a synth song all along.”
I’ll Be Your Girl is the sound of a veteran band finding new inspiration, a unit unafraid of challenging itself to re-connect with its creativity. “Making music is an infinite choose-your-own-adventure,” says Meloy (who is also, of course, the author of a series of best-selling children’s books), “and when you go down one path, the other paths get sealed off. So every time we could, we said, ‘If this is what our impulses would tell us to do, let’s try to imagine it in a different way.’”
Gaelynn Lea is a musician from Duluth, MN. She has been playing violin for over twenty years. First classically trained, she began learning traditional Celtic and American fiddle tunes at the age of 18. During her college years Gaelynn started sitting in with various folk/rock musicians and developed an improvisational style all her own. Eventually she also began singing and dabbling in songwriting. Gaelynn has played alongside many notable Minnesota musicians over the years, including Alan Sparhawk, Charlie Parr, and Billy McLaughlin.
Gaelynn Lea has been actively performing throughout Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2006, contributing to a number of musical projects in the Twin Ports. Currently her most active collaboration is The Murder of Crows, an atmospheric alternative duo with Alan Sparhawk. Together they recorded an EP titled Imperfecta in 2012. Their original song “When We Were Young” was featured on the Sundance Channel’s acclaimed drama Rectify in June 2014. Gaelynn also regularly performs solo sets of experimental fiddle tunes sprinkled with her original songs; her aim is to create a meditative, layered sound that allows the listener’s mind to drift.
In November 2015, Gaelynn Lea released her debut solo album entitled All the Roads that Lead Us Home. It pays homage to the traditional fiddle tunes and beloved standards that Gaelynn has been playing for over a decade… But of course, there is a twist! Gaelynn used her Memory Man looping pedal to create winding layers of sound underneath these familiar melodies.
On March 3, 2016, Gaelynn Lea was named the winner of NPR Music’s second-ever Tiny Desk Contest. Her music video entry rose to the top of over 6,100 entries from around the nation, chosen as the unanimous favorite among the contest’s six judges. The very next week, Gaelynn performed a moving Tiny Desk Concert, at which the show’s host Bob Boilen said “there was hardly a dry eye.”
In addition to performing and recording, Gaelynn loves to do speaking engagements about disability, overcoming challenges, and the joy of music. Gaelynn has a congenital disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bones Disease. In recent years, she has used her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change. Gaelynn believes society must make accessibility a priority so people with disabilities can participate fully in their communities and use their talents and gifts without discrimination.