I am both listening to and sketching an awful lot of music lately, which is a lovely state of affairs. Nine days after hosting my first ever house concert, I hosted my second as well. My friends and one of my favorite local bands the Side Street Steppers had musical friends coming through town, and I have a bigger front bigger front room than they do. So they brought some more great music to my house and opened the show (above).
Their friend Putnam Smith, who not only plays banjo but also owns a printing press, brought his band the Swamp Brothers. Banjo plus letterpress was all that was needed to talk me into hosting them.
I got their name wrong in the sketch below. Putnam was going through all the iterations they had tried along the way, and when I'm drawing I don't always process everything verbal going on around me, so I ended up with Swamp Boys instead in the sketch...
I did a little audience sketching as well, though with three bands in the living room, fully half the audience was also part of the show. That's Ben Hunter on the left and Christian and Vera of the Steppers on the right.
The third act, amazingly playing in my own house, had just won the International Blues Challenge that week. It's a huge competition here in Memphis each year, with two winners, a solo/duo category and a band category. Out of all the musicians who descend from around the world. I was delighted some traditional blues (fiddle, acoustic guitar, harmonica) had won the contest this year and even more delighted to have them play in my home. Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons put on quite a show.
Interestingly, both groups have a printing connection, and I managed to barter for all their cds. Putnam letter presses all his cd sleeves, and Joe's mom is a gorgeous block printer and did all the art for their album. I'd love to do some album artwork sometime. Putnam really liked my recent favorite print, "the Waltz," so my favorite waltz partner and I have now gone to live in Maine. Joe and Ben wanted some letterpress cards, so I got their cd as well, and an invitation to visit the art space they run in Seattle. It was a lovely evening of music and art.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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