This week, I’ve got two excellent shows to tell you about, and you can catch both if you’re so inclined because one is on Saturday night, and the other one is on Wednesday. Both shows feature singer-songwriters with entirely lovely vocals and powerful lyricism. We’ll begin in Bath at the Chocolate Church Arts Center. That’s where you can see Vermonter-turned-Brooklyn, New Yorker Anaïs Mitchell.
Now about those lyrics. Here’s a line from the song “Out of Pawn” from 2014’s “Xoa” album: “The heat and the bourbon was in your head/You were talking in tongues, you were back from the dead/And the girl and the city were one and the same/And last call never came.” And that’s but one example of what Mitchell’s all about. I’m still working my way through her discography, and it’s like exploring an archipelago and finding a hidden treasure on each atoll. Mitchell’s first record is 2004’s “Hymns for the Exiled,” and her most recent is “Xoa,” with four others in between. Go see her! And while you’re at it, make a note on your calendar because Mitchell will be back in Maine for a show at One Longfellow Square on Aug. 3.
Take a listen to “Out of Pawn”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Chocolate Church Arts Center, 804 Washington St., Bath
HOW MUCH: $22 in advance, $25 day of show
I HAVE TREMENDOUS respect for artists who can channel the sorrow and angst of a national tragedy and create important art. Singer-songwriter Heather Maloney, who hails from Northampton, Massachusetts, and will be performing in Portland on Wednesday night, did just that with the song “How Many More.” The song was written in the wake of the Parkland shootings in Florida. That day was Valentine’s Day, and it’s the day that 17 lives were ended, including the lives of 14 students from 14 to 18 years old. On her website, Maloney said that the new single is “inspired by the incredible young people behind #NeverAgain & #MarchForOurLives,” and she also said that 100 percent of proceeds will be donated directly to Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action.
Here’s some more of what Maloney said about the song. “Listening to the horrifying live reports from Parkland, I was hit with a nauseating feeling of total immersion … of being totally immersed in a culture of gun violence that has run so rampant and so wildly out-of-control that it’s evidence could be seen in every direction. It was everywhere. I went back to my cottage and picked up my guitar, thinking that if I could write out the feeling maybe I’d be able to shake the feeling of helplessness. I tried to write, but nothing worth keeping came out, just some sloppy emotions with zero clarity. A few days of consuming news later, there she was. Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez gave a speech that moved me to my core and lit my heart on fire. I picked up my guitar again, and this time a song came pouring out, fully formed. The song title was clear too: “How Many More.” Some of the lyrics: “There’s a teacher showing how to shield/A weapon made for battlefields/There’s a trigger, and anyone can pull it/There’s a look inside a child’s eyes/When they don’t trust the world outside/And their innocence flies from them like a bullet.”
Here’s “How Many More”
But this song isn’t the only reason to catch this mid-week show. Maloney also has a new EP out called “Just Enough Sun,” and all six of its songs are fantastic, including an almost seven-minute take on Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Maloney has been releasing music for almost a decade, and everything I’ve heard is a keeper. A copy of her self-titled 2013 CD is literally sitting on my desk, along with a few other faves, as I write this. So yeah, catch this show, and arrive on time because the recently formed local duo Finch is opening the show. They’re Monique Barrett and Jeff Christmas, and I watched a cell phone clip of them the other day, and they sounded terrific.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 16.
WHERE: One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $15 in advance, $19 day of show.