State Theatre Portland
Kevin Morby

Kevin Morby

Bedouine

Wed, June 20, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Port City Music Hall

Portland, ME

$18 Advance / $20 Day of Show / $30 Preferred Seating

This event is 18 and over

Buy tickets in person at the Port City Music Hall box office (504 Congress Street) Wednesday-Friday 10AM-5PM, charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online right here. PCMH box office will open one hour before doors night of show.

Kevin Morby
Kevin Morby
City Music is an airplane descending over frozen lakes into Chicago. City Music is riding the Q Train out to Coney Island to smell the ocean and a morning in Philadelphia where greats cranes reconfigure the buildings like an endless puzzle. City Music is a quiet afternoon moment on a bench in Baltimore, a highway in Seattle at night where the distant houses look like tiny flames and a bottle of red wine being drained on a bridge in Paris. City Music is a bus pulling into St. Louis at dawn where the arch looks like a metal rainbow reflecting the days early sunlight.

City Music is also the new album by Kevin Morby. Full of listless wanderlust, it's a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mould. As he puts it: "It is a mix-tape, a fever dream, a love letter dedicated to those cities that I cannot get rid of, to those cities that are all inside of me."

His fourth album, City Music works as a counterpart to Morby's acclaimed 2016 release Singing Saw, an autobiographical set that reflected the solitude and landscape in which it was recorded. It was imagined as "an old bookshelf with a young Bob and Joni staring back at me, blank and timeless. They live here, in this left side of my brain, smoking cigarettes and playing acoustic guitars while lying on an unmade bed."

And now follows City Music, the yang to its yin, the heads to its tails. It is an collection crafted using the other side of its creator's brain, the jumping off point perhaps best once again encapsulated by an image. "Here, Lou Reed and Patti Smith stare out at the listener," explains Morby. "Stretched out on a living room floor they are somewhere in mid-70s Manhattan, also smoking cigarettes." It finds Morby exploring similar themes of solitude, but this time framed by a window of an uptown apartment that looks down upon an international urban landscape "exposed like a giant bleeding wound."

Morby rose to prominence as bassist in Woods, with who he recorded seven albums on Woodsist Records (Kurt Vile, The Oh Sees, Real Estate) while also forming The Babies with Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls. Two albums and a clutch of classic singles with the latter followed. Morby's 2013 debut solo work Harlem River was a homage to New York and featured contributions from artists including Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley (of White Fence), while 2014's Still Life garnered universal critical praise. "It's easy to picture Morby with a wineskin under his arm," noted a Pitchfork review. "His every worldly possession hitched to his back, an eye constantly fixed on some faraway point on the horizon."

Recording at Panoramic Studios, a central Californian home-turned-recording studio, City Music saw Morby joined once again by former The Babies cohorts Megan Duffy (guitar) and Justin Sullivan (drums). Here the vocals were at recorded night, in darkness, overlooking a Pacific Ocean illuminated only by the stars, the wash and whisper of the ebbing tidal a distant soundtrack. Six weeks of European touring had left the trio speaking a secret language that only a band can speak. "The language of a musical family," explains Morby. "There was an outdoor shower with no curtain and deer ran through the front yard during the meals we cooked for each other..." The record was completed with Richard Swift in Oregon (producer of Foxygen, sometime member of The Black Keys).

From the widescreen opening of 'Come To Me Now' through the bubblegum stomp of the Ramones-eulogising '1-2-3-4' (which also references late poet Jim Carroll's litany of friends lost, 'People Who Died'), a stripped-back and wistful cover of 'Caught In My Eye' by nihilistic LA punk wrecking crew Germs and on to Leonard Cohen-evoking closer 'Downtown's Lights', City Music reads like a selection of musical postcards composed and posted in the moment. It is a forensic and poetic examination of a modern America in love with the myth of itself.

At the big beating heart of these songs is the voice and conscience of the city. All cities. We see them viewed from differing angles; from down in the gutter, and drifting up into the celestial firmament. "I am walking through a Chinatown in a major American city and now I am a guitar part taking place in my head," offers Morby by a way of a commentary for the album's inception. "It falls around me like rain, dancing with the neon lights coming off of the signs of the restaurants and bars. Now I am a lamp full of hot air floating away, looking down. The city is beautiful like one million candles with different sized flames, moving in their own directions. A line finds me and grabbing it I hold on tight. I sing to myself, 'Oh, that City Music, oh that city sound...'"

Here the album gives voice to the all those cities speaking the same universal language of chaos and commerce and culture. It views the city as an Oz-like experience, with your host cast as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, a narrator by turns innocent, awestruck, fearful and fearless. Where a world once black and white is now rainbow coloured. "I am a city and I have many moods," it says via its human conduit. "I am dangerous and I am gorgeous. Like a proud forest made of metal and brick I am constantly changing shape, growing bigger and smaller all at the same time. I hold you but you do not hold me...."

City Music. Let it hold you.
Bedouine
Bedouine
“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.” ― Italo Calvino

“I am a pilgrim and a stranger traveling through this wearisome land. I've got a home in that yonder city, good Lord and it's not, not made by hand.” ―Traditional

Bedouine, a gallicized riff on bedouin, the nomad, the wanderer. Anyone can assume such a name, but Azniv Korkejian has an experience of what it means, the type of ground it covers. “Moving around so much caused me at some point to feel displaced, to not really belong anywhere and I thought that was a good title.” Her development was shaped by political landscapes and family opportunities, her adult life patterned by paths of her own. Born in Aleppo, Syria to Armenian parents, Korkejian spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia, moving to America when her family won a Green Card lottery. They settled in Boston, then Houston, but she split for L.A. as soon as she could. A casual offer to stay on a horse farm took her to the rolling hills of Lexington, Kentucky, followed by a year in Austin, and a trip east to Savannah for a degree in sound design. Returning to L.A., she discovered a close-knit community of musicians in Echo Park that started to feel like home. Maybe America is just a highway that leads back to L.A.

Korkejian works with sound professionally, in dialogue editing and music editing, a slice of Hollywood’s sprawling industry. She never set out to be a singer in L.A., taking a zen approach to that part of her life, thinking that if it happens, it happens. “I just kept meeting the right people, who were professional musicians, and even though they were going on these big legitimate tours, they were still coming back to this amazing small scene, still demoing at home, and I immediately felt welcomed to join in on that. L.A. actually made me less jaded.” One day she walked into the studio of bass player / producer Gus Seyffert (Beck, Norah Jones, The Black Keys) to inquire about portable reel-to-reel tape machines and ended up cutting “Solitary Daughter in a first take. So they began another kind of journey.

Bedouine has a sound. Sixties folk meets seventies country-funk with a glimmer of bossa nova cool. Lithe guitar picking and precise lyrical excursions. That mesmerizing voice and phrasing. Working on around thirty tracks over three years, with contributions from a remarkable cast of players like guitarist Smokey Hormel (Tom Waits, Joe Strummer, Johnny Cash), Seyffert and Korkejian brought a selection of ten songs to Richmond, Virginia. She specifically sought out Spacebomb, approaching Matthew E. White after a show in L.A. He remembers listening to the song she sent over and over, on and off the road, “‘One of These Days’ became our alarm when we woke up for almost all of that tour.” Anticipating this future collaboration, the tracks were created with breathing room for the Spacebomb touch and Trey Pollard’s sinuous symphonic arrangements. Back in California, Thom Monahan (Pernice Brothers, Devendra Banhart, Vetiver) brought all the elements together in a masterful final mix.

Eschewing notions of nomadic chic, Bedouine represents minimalism motivated by travel, paring down and paring down until only the essential remains. Her music establishes a sustained and complete mood, reflecting on the unending reverberations of displacement, unafraid to take pleasure along the way. At the end of “Summer Cold” Korkejian composed an interstitial piece to recreate the sounds of her grandmother’s street in Aleppo. Partly due to America’s role in destabilizing Syria, this sonic memory is the only way to return to her birthplace. Worlds that have been lost might only be accessed through a song, in a line or a melody or a trace of tape, but they must be looked for in order to be found, so she wanders on.
Venue Information:
Port City Music Hall
504 Congress St
Portland, ME, 04101