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(Review) Pieta Brown – This Land Is Your Music II: First Night – 12/4/2010

Pieta Brown at This Land is Your Music II at The Mill on 12-4-2010

Pieta Brown’s second songwriter-in-residency called “This Land Is Your Music” at The Mill Restaurant kicked off on Saturday 12/4 right on the heels of a six-day mini-tour of Australia which wrapped up the previous Saturday.  I had been looking forward to seeing these two shows. Last year’s three consecutive Thursday night shows in November (read my reviews for 11/5/09, 11/12/09, 11/19/09)  were truly magical, intimate shows. Pieta considers The Mill her home venue– she got her start playing The Mill, so she was happy to bring these shows to that stage.  The combination of music and art is a way for Pieta to give back to the community that spawned her career.

The opening band was the folk trio The Vagabonds which includes Sam Blickhan from The Mayflies. Sam is also in The Wandering Bears with Sarah Mannix of the Vagabonds. Their set was very good, pretty three-part-harmonies of original songs with the occasional cover– one of which was a Be Good Tanyas song. I really liked their original songs and am looking forward to being able to see them again.
The Vagabonds at This Land is Your Music II
Like last year, set and light design was done by Stan Crocker. Last year the stage was lit like a small living room with umbrellas and lamps– this year Stan washed the stage in dramatic blue light.

Pieta Brown at This Land is Your Music II at The Mill on 12-4-2010

Pieta’s set was a solo acoustic set and included primarily songs from her new album One and All, the Shimmer EP and Remember the Sun, but she also added some new songs. “Be With You” had only been played one other time according to Pieta. The song “No Words Now” was described as being influenced by meeting Mark Knopfler (whom she toured with this year) and JJ Cale, who are both heroes of Pieta’s (as is Tom Petty— the subject of “Faller”).

Not content to be the only performer, Pieta invited her sister Constie on stage to sing duet on “The Other Way Around” from One and All. Constie provides harmony vocals on the new album, as well. For the finale of Pieta’s set she invited the Vagabonds to join her on stage for a gospel track which drew some comments by Iris DeMent who was in the crowd and soon joined the crew onstage for a rousing version of the Reverend Gary Davis song “Morning Train.”

Pieta Brown Joined onstage by Constie Brown, The Vagabonds and Iris DeMent

As with the first This Land Is Your Music shows, there was an artist gallery. Lighting designer Stan Crocker had a really cool installation of light boxes in the green room. Each of the parts of the display had its own light source and illuminated individual subjects.

Stan Crocker Light Box Installation

Watch the video for a walkthrough I did of the installation while The Vagabonds play “Ransom”:

The entryway of the Mill had photos from regional photographer Sonya Naumann. Here is a set from her series titled “Dunce”.

Entryway Exhibit of Sonya Naumann

The This Land is Your Music shows are something anyone who is a fan of Pieta Brown or the Eastern Iowa music scene in general should really get out to see. I’m really happy that Pieta was able to pull this off again this year and am looking forward to seeing tomorrow night’s show. Pieta will be playing in a trio with Bo Ramsey and a drummer and the opening act will be Alexis Stevens. The gallery will be provided by Jamie Hudrlik.

The tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door and the proceeds will again be donated to Friends of Hickory Hills and Iowa Public Radio. Pieta’s sister Zoe designed teeshirts for the event as well as the poster seen above and both will be available at the show along with Pieta’s new vinyl for One and All!

Click Here for the Mill Restaurant Website for more details.

Pieta Brown Setlist:

1. Be With You *
2. West Monroe
3. No Words Now *
4. Hey Run
5. Out of the Blue
6. Are You Free?
7. You’re My Lover Now
8. In My Mind I Was Talking To Loretta
9. El Guero
10. Other Way Around (w/Constie Brown)
11. Faller
12. I’m Gone *
13. Closin’ Time *
14. Calling All Angels
15. Over Your
16. Morning Train (Rev. Gary Davis) (w/The Vagabonds and Iris DeMent)

* new songs!

A slideshow of the pictures I took:

(Upcoming Shows) Pieta Brown & Friends – This Land is Your Music Residency at The Mill 12/4 & 12/11

It’s hard to believe that it already has been over a year since Pieta Brown hosted her first artist-in-residence at The Mill Restaurant. That show was three Thursday night shows in November last year (see my reviews for: 11/5, 11/12, 11/19). Next to the Daytrotter Barnstormer shows, these were some of my favorite shows of 2009– very intimate and special. The stage lighting and design by Stan Crocker was a great touch– an eclectic little living room. Pieta was using these shows to try out some live band configurations– solo, duo and full band. To help bring some awareness to the art scene in the area, she set aside the room normally reserved as the green room as a gallery which was really cool, too. The only disappointing thing to me about these shows was the lack of audience on a couple of the shows. By the 11/19 show, it seemed like word had gotten out about these gigs. But, mid-week shows are always hit-or-miss in Iowa City, even when school is in session.

Pieta is bringing This Land Is Your Music back to the Mill for two shows in December– Saturday 12/4 and Saturday 12/11. The tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door and the proceeds will again be donated to Friends of Hickory Hills and Iowa Public Radio. Doors will be at 7PM Here are the details:

Saturday, December 4. Pieta Brown performs a solo set. Her special guest will be Iowa City trio The Vagabonds. The art in the gallery will be done by Stan Crocker and Sonya Naumann. Sonya Naumann has a really interesting photography project called “Thousand Dollar Dress” that maybe we’ll get to see some of in the gallery.

Saturday, December 11. Pieta Brown & Terraplane headlines. We don’t know exactly who is in the band, but Bo Ramsey lists this show in the tour section of his site. Alexis Stevens will open. The gallery will have works by Jamie Hudrlik (who happens to be the very talented daughter of Iowa City photographer Sandy Dyas who showed photographs last year).

I suspect that Pieta will have some of her wonderful new 180g vinyl pressings of One and All with her, too. (I got my copy this week!).

Click Here for Pieta Brown’s website

Click Here for The Mill Restaurant website.

Click Here to visit midwestix.com to pre-order tickets to This Land Is Your Music II.

Here are my reviews for last year’s shows:  11/5, 11/12, 11/19

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