Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Notes from Montreat Epilogue 1: David LaMotte Concert

I stayed in Montreat for an extra day to see David LaMotte in concert. It's easily the only time I've only ever seen him in a dress shirt and jacket. The reason he wore such "nice" clothes on this occasion was that this concert was tied to a Patron's Dinner for supporters of the Mountain Retreat Association (although the concert itself was free to anyone able to attend). Before the concert began, they also introduced a short fund-raising video which included clips from the conferences I was attending for the previous couple of weeks (among others). That video is now available online. Check it out on Facebook! That the video was shown as planned is a testimony to the hard work of Montreat's Summer Staff, who had to deal with an unexpected technical problem. The light bulb in the video projector which hangs some 15 feet off of the ground had burnt out, and they didn't have the time before people would start arriving to get a ladder tall enough to change it properly, then test the projector out with the new bulb. So they wrangled a portable projector and scrambled to get the sound and video all working together in the last 40 minutes or so before the concert began. No one who arrived with the bulk of the crowd (and therefore didn't see all this scrambling in progress) would have even known that there was a problem!

David LaMotte's roughly hour-long concert included songs from across the spectrum of David's 18 years (so he tells us) of singing and touring. It's the first time I've ever heard a few of his songs live (even some songs that I know he'd written before the last time I saw him live about 9 years ago). One such song, "S.S. Bathtub" is a song from his children's album, recorded in 1998. It was especially cool when he interrupted himself while discussing a different song to talk to a small child in the front row (who requested "S.S. Bathtub") and, when learning that the boy would be three the next day, got everybody to sing "Happy Birthday to You."

Another noteworthy moment of the concert is when David sang his cover of Sting's "Walking in Your Footsteps." He did the same basic technique I described Jeffrey Harper using in my last post: looping various background sounds and stretches of music, and then layering them one on top of the other. I'm only sorry that I didn't keep track of how many layers David ultimately used. It seems like he must have had at least 10 going on at once!

Perhaps the most special bit for me was getting to speak with David briefly after the concert. There was a bit of a line, but after waiting 9 years, I wasn't in any hurry if he wasn't. He recognized my name, and even commented about how I was usually on the "other coast" and how we had just missed each other a number of times over the past few years. That made my day! Definitely worth staying an extra day in Montreat for!

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