A galaxy of stardust
Nothing but a wisp
Whirling through the darkness
Into the abyss
A tiny little planet
A backyard with a hedge
You were safe there in the middle
Ah, but the view is from the edge
– “The View from the Edge,” David Wilcox
Last night was David Wilcox’s third show with us in the past 366 days. There’s a simple reason for that: I love David’s work and will happily give him the opportunity to play whenever I have the chance, even on a Wednesday night. Reasonable music industry people might think that’s a little too much coverage in a one-year period. I might be prone to agree with them if it weren’t for the fact that every show with David has been so different from the others that it’s nearly like having a different artist each time. Our first show was a rollicking run through the spectrum of David’s songs, heavy on the greatest hits. The second was when I realized that Folk All Y’all was gaining its feet, and the show reflected a theme of evolving artistic expression. They were both perfect in their own ways.
But last night was a totally new thing. For starters, we welcomed Justin Farren, who was completely unknown to our audience and completely won them over in approximately four seconds (playing a song he’d never played live before). David describes him as “a whoop-ass songwriter,” and I certainly couldn’t say it better than that. His set was hilarious and sweet and smart and touching, and as much as everyone in that room wanted to hear David, they would have happily spent the night listening to Justin. David actually sat in the front row while Justin played, lending the trademark Wilcox Laugh to an already joyful crowd. It was just delightful.
And then it was David’s turn. We’d decided to roll right into his set from Justin’s and then take a break, which was probably for the best. At that half-way point, I spoke to no fewer than four audience members (not counting me) who had already been reduced to tears. There wasn’t one specific moment or lyric that drew that reaction, I don’t think, but rather the overall collection of themes and imagery that David felt inspired to share. Whether from international tragedies or community challenges or personal calamities (or all of the above), the heaviness in our hearts was waiting for those words. It was healing, it was cathartic, but first it required us to face that rawness head on.
The second set featured songs so new that David needed to read their lyrics off the page. I know people can sometimes feel a little challenged when a favorite artist springs new stuff on them, but in this case, it seemed like a demonstration of trust to let us be among the first to hear and feel those pieces, possibly even shaping their final form.
David also gave us a look into the words that move him, covering three songs during the night – opening with Justin Farren’s “Worthy of the Sea,” placing James Taylor’s “Sugar Trade” in the middle, and closing with “Holy Now,” by Peter Mayer. The trio of innocence, suffering, and renewed perspective was the perfect thread to run through the evening.
Yes, it was our third show with David in a year’s time, and yet it was a first. This series exists to build a community, and the Wilcox fans within it have definitely done that. The vulnerability shown both on and off the stage last night was a reminder of how close we’ve become. We were all out there on the edge together. I can’t wait to go back.
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