“Baby, don’t you worry
I know this year’s been tough
Oh, the days are long and full of
Useless, endless stuff
So baby, don’t you worry
If I’ve had enough
Oh the days are long
But you know
Oh, you know I’m still in love
And it if it’s easy come
Then it’s easily gone
Tooth and nail
Ain’t always wrong
And if it’s easy come
Then it’s easily gone
Might as well be gone”

     – Kalyn Fay, “Baby, Don’t You Worry”

I booked our show with Kalyn Fay nearly a full year in advance. She was one of my most anticipated acts of 2019 and I spent months promoting the event. We even moved the date back a month to get some more attention and get those tickets sold.

But then they just … didn’t sell. I’ve learned over and over that Memphis is a last-minute town and not to panic if pre-sales aren’t where I hope even a few days in advance, but then the clock ran out and we still had a crowd that I could have squeezed onto my sectional. Knowing Kalyn was driving all the way from Tulsa and turning around to drive back the next day made me even more stressed, and having it be the last of many wonderful shows at Studio688 made me a little sad. 

It just wasn’t what I planned. And that was hard. 

But then Kalyn arrived, with cellist/composer Matt Magerkurth in tow, and the whole energy of the room changed. They rolled out of their car with smiles on their faces that never left, and they played with a passion and focus that would have been equally at home in a sold-out room.  

That’s how professionals work, of course, and Kalyn and Matt are professionals on multiple levels – musicians, creators, and academics, despite both looking like they just came from 5th period Physics. 

One of my favorite parts of their performance together was the easy rapport and playfulness that buoyed every song, regardless of how heavy the subject might be. It wasn’t goofy or inappropriate, just a constant, subtle reminder that translating life into song is a pretty fun magic trick. 

Kalyn’s work is so distinctive and moving, and Matt’s accompaniment added a layer of complexity that compounded each song’s meaning. With the modest but attentive crowd, they had a chance to relax and experiment a little, working off each other’s changes on the fly. We never felt like we were watching a rehearsal, but more like a master class on songwriting and adaptive arrangement. 

I’m a planner. Obsessively, perhaps. It’s how I keep a household, two kids, a dog, two jobs, and a concert series running in some sort of forward direction. But every once in a while I get reminded that so very much is beyond my ability to control. And it’s okay. Fantastic, even. This wasn’t the show I planned to happen, but it was completely perfect in its own way. As the series moves to its next stage, I’m grateful to Kalyn and Matt for so clearly demonstrating that no matter how it happens, any room full of music and people who love it is worth the effort.

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